>let me fly by faithworks
>reviewed by james koh
2 feb 2002
Community theatre has always had such dirty connotations - lowbrow and simplistic, its need to appeal to the lowest-common denominator is seen by bourgeois purists as stripping it of any artistic merit.
LET ME FLY could be considered community theatre. Yet its simple story was not simplistically told; neither was it totally bereft of any artistic merit; and if the audience appeared to enjoy themselves during the night I attended, was it necessarily bad theatre?
Its story was straightforward - Xu Fei, a boy from a family background so poor that he lives in a pig sty with his sister, is a gifted storyteller. He grows up and is torn between becoming an actor and following the Singapore dream of pursuing a business degree. Throw in a sister who desires to rise above their lowly position in society, a mother who works for the class-conscious Towkay Neo and Xu Fei's love interest in Towkay Neo's daughter, and this soon becomes a full-fledged Taiwanese serial.
But its community
roots were unabashedly celebrated by the social issues that were revealed
in the story - the economic determinism that governs the Singaporean way
of life and how it affects the choices we make; the often unmentioned
class lines that separate Singaporeans; the place of the arts in our society;
the narratives of our culture in the stories we tell ourselves, the stories
we don't tell ourselves, and the stories we need to tell ourselves.
>>'LET ME FLY takes a winged step in the right direction for community theatre'
(A bit of digression - the children acting in LET ME FLY, like most untrained child actors, were highly self-conscious. This was not a problem during certain parts of the performance and they did manage to up the "aww-shucks" factor. Yet moments of high tension were diluted by this very factor, for example, when the mother was presented with a rod by Towkay Neo to beat her own children, the comical prancing of these child actors made the scene humorous rather than dramatic, which was presumably how it was intended to be.)
the best that community theatre had to offer? Well, though LET ME FLY
can't be compared to the viscerally powerful performance that was 'Lian
Can Cook' by Drama Box (which was performed at the public spaces of the
heartlands of Singapore), LET ME FLY takes a winged step in the right
direction for community theatre.