>1 bed 3 pillows by action theatre (double bill 2)
>reviewed by adele tan
8 jun 2001
>>>>LET'S GO TO BED THEN....
This is one evening that sees two very different fates of the bed. Where the bed becomes the focal point for Michael Corbidge's The Wish of the Clover, the bed in Jane Pek's Are You Afraid of the Dark is relegated to being more or less part of the bedroom setting.
Written as a monologue, The Wish of the Clover charts the history of an inherited bed through the perspective of a divorced woman, Liz. As the narrative and retrospective unfolds, the bed's hidden secrets and other meanings are revealed, whether it is a bed for birth, sex or death. While Corbidge writes with an elegant hand and is capable of some crisp, witty lines, his narrative movements still plod a rather tame trajectory and the structure of the characters' relationships do not venture far from familiar terrain. The negotiation of relationships through the trauma of creation and destruction, especially between that of Liz and her ex-husband Peter, could have been given a more unconventional handling, beyond sex (the lack of) and petty jealousies. In all senses of the word, it is a "well-made" bed (with clean laundry and straightened sheets) for a "well-made" play.
In the attempt
to translate script to stage, the monologue still feels unstretched dramatically
by the directors. If the bed's fixed and central orientation on stage
is to be a reflection of its steadfast trustworthiness, its static and
secure position then did not concomitantly reflect its own mobility through
history. Stage spaces that were left unexplored by the centre heavy staging
could have given the narrative more flow and momentum. More imaginative
and adventurous directorial latitudes would have created a stronger visual
impact. Sandy Phillips, who plays Liz, (and is co-director with Corbidge)
gives a rather method-acting performance, and at times delivering a form
of dramatised reading of the script, which falls short of what she can
actually bring forth, given her range and technique. But that said, it
is also her dramatic presence that gives the monologue its weight and
>>'What is most disappointing about The Wish of the Clover is that it lacks the critical depth in its issues and has most things fall too neatly into place.'
play, Are You Afraid of the Dark gives one more to chew on, partly because
it is written with a mystery element. Of a macabre genre, Jane Pek takes
stabs at our deep irrational fears and desires, and the skewed perspectives
that adhere in our minds. Taking place between a married couple Matthew
and June, an institutionalised friend Adam, and June's (non-physically
present) sister Lina, Pek gives us Adam's own psychological disturbances
and motivations, the couple's betrayal and guilt towards their aborted
baby, the adultery committed by Lina and Matthew and the murder of Lina,
all tenuously linked in a perplexing, fragmented plot. Because of the
interchanging roles, the audience is left pondering about the real murderer
of Lina, whether Adam is the madman or the therapist, or whether June
is the unstable one concocting the entire version of the narrative. The
dramatisation allows the audience multiple conclusions from the play.
my biggest grouse is still reserved for the strange inclusion of the SMS
component within the plot. Ostensibly exogenous and potentially dispensable
to the plot, the SMS element becomes an annoying frill that is not well
integrated with the play. Contrary to expectations of a flow of interactive
exchanges between the stage and the audience, only three SMSs are sent
out during the play, with one having the audience choose the consequential
movement of the play. As an alternative, unvoiced text or subtext, and
as a participatory tool, the SMS function has been totally under-utilised,
making the whole hype about the play go out with a whimper. The play could
seriously have been better off without it.