>diary of a f.a.s.t. virgin by peel arts
>reviewed by jeremy samuel
22 sep 2001
>>>>>THE MADWOMAN IN THE CLASSROOM
Peel Arts' contribution to the Substation's 'Septfest' is a charming, fey piece about a girl (called "Girl") who has been haunted for years by a croaking noise which, we learn, is the product of a childhood composition of hers, 'The Farmer's Son and the Happy Frog', which was criticised by an uncomprehending teacher. This rejection devastates Girl to the point that she is disturbed by the nightly cries of a frog.
The play (or playlet, lasting as it does for barely half an hour) captures the terror and neurosis of an ordinary day at primary school. Girl lives in constant terror of being scolded or hit by her teacher, Miss Teo, who expects her to behave exactly like everyone else. The numbing pain of a regimented childhood has never been more vivid.
theme of DIARY OF A F.A.S.T. VIRGIN (don't, by the way, worry about the
title; playwright/director Pua En claims it came to him in a dream) is
conformity. Girl is constantly attacked for being different, for not falling
into line - we eventually discover that she is in fact a mental patient,
driven insane by society's determination to efface her individuality.
short play contains more wit and insight than many a longer work, and
balances its gentle humour well with
The staging of the play is simple, a bare set and stark lighting. This suits the pared-down script, the one jarring element being a TV set at the back of the classroom. The flickering images of a child playing at a piano, of sun glinting off a river, are for the most part just so much irrelevant eye candy. The one point where they do become congruent with the action comes at the end, when Girl, in a clever bit of staging, passes the scraps of paper on which 'The Happy Frog' is written to her on-screen self.
that "sometimes I feel the world is one big school, and all of us
will have to learn the same thing sooner or later." The ravings of
lunatics often have a inescapable logic, and this madwoman's judgements
on society are both chilling and acute.