>miss fit by the etceteras

>reviewed by daniel teo

>date: 3 aug 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.


>>>>>A FUNNY THING HAPPENED TO ME ON THE WAY TO THE THEATRE

It was ironic and somewhat fitting that the night I watched the production, the whole theatre was filled to the brim with giggly teenagers out for the night. Laughing at every remotely funny moment and much more at those not that funny, the merits of Art were clearly not on their minds. They were there to have fun - culture be damned!

Likewise, MISS FIT had no pretensions of being high art. From silly jokes about crushing sparrows to death with her heavy weight (you really have to watch it to know why) to copious puns about obesity, the play mapped the evolution of protagonist Ah Zhu. Facing imagined increasing scrutiny from her friends and most of all herself, she feels the need to conform to society's standard of beauty as she questions her self-worth. Throw in the stodgy but sweet boyfriend and you have bite-size sitcom drama ready to be wrapped in 30 mins.

>>'What the production had in abundance was a generous sense of fun and imagination.'


Except it didn't. With such a paper-thin plot and flimsy characterisation, it outlasted its comfortable sitcom duration veering into a precarious overtime the play's slim structure could ill bear.

Except for lead Xu Huiling, the rest of the characters couldn't bring across the intended stockness of characters they were playing and were thus halfway between satire and realism. Lead actress Huiling was sufficiently confident to bring across her character's insecurities without sounding like Singapore's Bridget Jones. At times boiling with jealousy and at times plagued by fear, she handled her role beautifully - with the ease and confidence you wished her character would gain.


What the production had in abundance was a generous sense of fun and imagination. The clever set comprising four movable pillars was effective the first few times it was used. However, it lost its oomph by the umpteenth time it was used. Lighting on the other hand was evocative and a great help in setting the tones of all the scenes. However a lack of attention to detail showed as minor props failed to rise to the occasion - the "belly" on lead actor Liang Jia Hao's stomach was clearly a pillow of sorts and it was jarring as the wife patted his pillow on the stomach and proclaimed it the product of a blessed life.

As the play prodded along one started wishing for a greater depth in its characters and plot. Thoughtless pop psychology prevailed throughout the night as motivations weren't given deeper treatments and were frequently left to the superficial levels of clichés.