>lover's words by The Fun Stage

>reviewed by jeremy samuel

>date: 16 apr 2004
>time: 8pm
>venue: esplanade drama studiohouse
>rating: **1/2

>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.


Imagine a world in which homosexuality is the norm, and heterosexuals are forced to meet for furtive encounters in seedy nightclubs, while the gay world pours scorn upon them as deviants and subjects them, when caught, to extensive psychological re-conditioning to get them off the straight and narrow path.

This is the premise behind LOVER'S WORDS, Taiwanese playwright Qiu An Chen's study of the politics of sexual orientation. Richard Chua's production is heavily stylised, with a set composed of random wooden structures and tanks of water. The cast are dressed in monochrome slinky, low-cut outfits - and that's just the men. It's all vaguely futuristic but dated at the same time, rather like watching a science fiction film from the seventies.

>>'the tired hammering on the drum of gay rights sounds more dated than ever here'

The main relationships here are just as stylised, and just as difficult to believe in. A boy and a girl - Yu Xiang and Xin Yi - meet at a party and fall in love, but cannot be together as they are of different genders. All very Romeo and Juliet, but there is scarcely any chemistry between the two (played by Willy Lau and Sabrina C) and as a result, we never really care whether or not they end up together.

The supporting characters are fine in themselves, but appear plonked into the action with no real function. Even Sarah Tng, who is very moving as Xin Yi's languid erstwhile lesbian lover, is not given enough room to create a convincing bond with her supposed girlfriend.

LOVER'S WORDS does not work as a play. More than the annoying plot holes - we never, for instance, find out where babies come from in this world - it does not really have anything to say. After a while, simple inversion - boys here are sent to mixed schools to force them to concentrate on their studies - ceases to be funny, and is not that well thought out in the first place. It is also nowhere near as radical as the playwright clearly thinks it is, and the tired hammering on the drum of gay rights sounds more dated than ever here.