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.
>>>>>ALL MOUTH AND NO TROUSERS
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
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.
tired hammering on the drum of gay rights sounds more dated than ever
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.
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.