>hark the jingle red-nosed chestnuts by i theatre

>reviewed by adi soon

>date: 9 dec 2001
>time: 8pm
>venue: the drama centre
>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.


It was rare that one feels intense agitation after a show. This was the feeling that grabbed me as soon as the curtains came down. Continually and throughout the show, flashes of this impulse had been steadily building.
Lest you misunderstand, this was not an agitation caused by disgust or any such disapproval of the show, instead, it was a pure and simple impulse to find a word-processor.

I just had to spread the word.

And my message is: if you haven't seen CHESTNUTS, then pray don't miss it. You still have your chance for the last 3 days of its 2nd run on the 20-22nd of December.

The quality of the show was just overwhelming. Conceived to crank out the most number of laughs from a (preferably) local Singaporean audience in one and a half-hours, it certainly did its job. A diverse range of targets were chosen for mockery. Examples like Mediacorp's 'War Diary', to 'Miss Saigon', to the unflappably cool Theatreworks and even the recent rise of the Para Para dance trend. Placed one after the other in quick succession, these sketches were brought to life by the comic duo of Jonathon Lim and Sean Yeo. Mad men they clearly were, for the range of character and costume changes could only have been handled by experienced
stage performers. In this respect there was little disappointment, as was the rapport both displayed, obviously from a long-standing working collaboration.

>>'I'll just say this again in case I haven't made myself clear enough: GO WATCH THE SHOW!'

In some aspects of their comic style, there were shades of 'Forbidden
Broadway', evident especially in parts relating to 'Miss Saigon' and 'Le
Miz'. However, the comic duo went one further with their nastily delicious
lyrics that would make even Gerard Alessandrini* proud. It was truly a
delight to both marvel at the quality of the lyrics and laugh at the same
time. Kudos to the writer, (who I suspect may have been Jonathon Lim
judging by his very productive CV).

Further evidence of the twisted creativity required to bring together such
disparate elements as Wayang Kulit, Theatreworks and 'Titanic' could be found here, which in the end created one of the more memorable sequences in the show. Also, the 'War Diary'sketch in my opinion was
worth the price of the ticket alone. I won't spoil the surprise by describing these or the many other sketches that will doubtlessly leave you laughing in your seats. And I'll just say this again in case I haven't made myself clear enough:


Now, in all this positivity, was there anything that I was dissatisfied with?

There were mainly 3 things and I'll point them out to avoid sounding too much like an advertisement. Firstly, the energy of the show had a tendency to sag at parts. This happened more so in the first half when some of the
jokes fell flat. I thought some editing might have tightened up and evened the overall texture of the show. Secondly, the technical aspects could have been better. Scene changes happened a touch too slowly
for my taste. Lighting was also not controlled too well as actors were sometimes in shadow. Thirdly, the stamina of the actors seemed to let them down at some of the more challenging sequences. This happened a few times and had the effect of rendering the lyrics a little unclear.

In the entire scheme of things however, these are small points and should not dilute your resolve. For what it is, the show shines ever so brightly. I can honestly say that I haven't had this funny a night out in a long
time. Thankfully the show will continue to be a regular fixture for Christmases in the future as can be seen by it being the 5th instalment since 1996. Regretfully, I can only ask myself why I didn't find out about it earlier. Oh well....

*creator of 'Forbidden Broadway'