Woman in a Tree on the Hill
by W!ld Rice
2 jun 2001
is done to Yu's text in the process, but then you can't make an omelet
without breaking eggs. Her fragmentary structure lends itself well to
director Ivan Heng's deconstructionist approach, gaining in the process
a touch of sophistication that its simplistic analysis of gender politics
>>'This production's strength is not in its whole but in the details, little touches with which Ivan Heng has infused the script's orginal strident feminism with a more universal sense of loss and struggle.'
Both actresses are good physical performers, and demonstrate an amazing versatility in their multiple roles. Foo is particularly good as a chauvinistic, neanderthal husband, while Wong excels as a pouting Nu Wa, earth goddess for the pop generation. The energy on display here is infectious, and if their many accents are not always spot-on, they are at least executed with verve.
Chaos breaks out elsewhere on the stage. Gong Myong use both traditional Korean instruments and random items - water bottles, power tools - to create a powerful aural backdrop. This is a thinking man's 'Cookin' - the rhythms, stirring as they are, rise organically from the production rather than being tacked on.
element is added by performance artist Amanda Heng, appearing from time
to time as a stony-faced SIA stewardess, and stealing every scene she
is in without once uttering a word or changing her facial expression.
She has a magnetic stage presence, with a quiet gravity that perfectly
balances the frenetic Wong and Foo.
Which is not to say there are no faults here. Some of the sequences are over-laboured, in particular the opening, and go on for too long. In the main, though, the scenes of Yu's text, prised apart, are crammed with clever touches. When put back together, they add up to somewhat less than the sum of their parts - but then this production's strength is not in its whole but in the details, little touches with which Ivan Heng has infused the script's orginal strident feminism with a more universal sense of loss and struggle.
In one of
many video segments that intercut the play, we see Amanda Heng apparently
waving to strangers on the steps of the National Library, in a Candid
Camera-type stunt. This suddenly becomes poignant, when the camera pulls
away, the perspective shifts, and we realise that she is in fact waving
goodbye to the soon-to-be-demolished library building. Touching, and very