>TEMPTATIONS by Rainbow Theatre

>reviewed by arthur kok

>date: 27 apr 2000
>time: 8pm
>venue: Neptune Theatre Restaurant
>rating: *

>tired already? go home then
>review junkie? whitney, give them this click to sniff

>look, we know that you need to know that we, as responsible reviewers, have some quantifiable categories to rate productions, and are not just relying on some undefinable instinct or gut feeling. So to put your mind at ease, we will give you a logical rating system based on the practitioner's vision / and the reviewer's response of a particular production. Here it is then: ***** : Transcendent / Rapturous. ****: Crystal / Appreciative. ***: Transmitted / Thoughtful. **:Vague / Unsatisfied. * : Uncommunicated / Mystified. Yet in the end, you will feel that this is (1) a cheap attempt to justify the subjective arbitrariness of our rating system (2) buttressed by an interest in the logical (and inevitable) categorisation of such productions, which is (3) undermined by the cheapness of the attempt, and (4) confused by the creeping feeling you are getting that we are dead serious in our feeling that this rating system is an accurate description of the content, intent and quality of the production. Oh please -- does it even matter now? Look, at least we tried.


Serving up a good meal and a musical all in the name of fund-raising brings to mind gala events bursting at the seams with important people. As I took my seat around the chinese banquet table, I checked off in my head the prerequisite tai-tais and suited men. A look-at-me hairdo here, a conversationally inept bodyguard there, the dinner had its own fair share of entertainment.

Unfortunately, the play which finally unveiled itself on the impressive Neptune Theatre stage was a severe letdown. From the very start, a poor audio system thwarted even the most spirited musical delivery from the cast. Added to this, the deep stage and the expansive layout of the restaurant connived to suck up every musical note. The effect was melody made tired and laborious.

>>'As with instant-microwave-able dinners, this play tastes like cardboard with a few dashes of salt. '

Nonetheless, the inconsistent pick-up did avail some instances of clear dialogue and chorus-like commentary. The latter had a degree of polish and pluck that moved the lumbering musical along. A quarter of the way through the performance however, one knew that the themes were kept deliberately light for the demographically diverse audience. One can sum up the plot as, quote, " man falls in love with woman, man falls in love with woman, man [in drag] falls in love with woman". Frustratingly linear, painfully clichéd, the script barely concealed an overdue shelf-life.

Perhaps the script operated under the constraints of the (perceived/explicit) tastes of the member s of the Rotary Club. Perhaps director Jonathan Lim wanted to send-up the enterprise of entertainment cum fund-raising. Whatever the reasons, such a script could have been saved by a cast or some character who could invest a certain throwaway pizzazz, or at least demonstrate some self-mockery and 'knowing-ness' to the entire enterprise.

The only hint of his subversive possibility was the working in of a transvestite-cook. Gani stood out as the only one performer who bravely attempted to add some much needed flavour to the night, coming in strong with a high-soaring falsetto, sultry moves and a compelling stage presence. In drag as a feature chef, he falls in love with the ditzy girlfriend of a food critic and finally sheds his female facade for heterosexual bliss. One would argue that in a play already starved of anything novel, this alternative narrative-noodle would ensure a grateful palate.

Final verdict for 'Theatre, Food & Wine'? As with instant-microwave-able dinners, this play tastes like cardboard with a few dashes of salt.