>Open Rehearsal Performance 2004 by Mime Unlimited

>reviewed by student writer, Nadia bte ibrahim

>date: 28 aug 2004
>time: 8pm
>venue: Teater Kami's Black Box
>rating: ****

>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.
 

>>>>>NOISES OFF

The lights dim and the audience waits in anticipation for what is about to happen next. Christina Sergeant, the Artistic Director of Mime Unlimited appears, to welcome the audience and she promises them an entertaining and enjoyable evening.

And what an evening it was!

Mime Unlimited's OPEN REHEARSAL PERFORMANCE 2004 was a production where talented performers, some new, some experienced, were provided the opportunity to display their work in various mime vignettes. Open rehearsals have been a part of Mime Unlimited since 1998. This time around the production was a bit of an emotional roller-coaster ride, with serious and light-hearted pieces sometimes alternating, meaning that the audience was laughing one moment and solemn the next.

The production began with 'Isolate', a light-hearted piece by Christina Sergeant. Despite the unfortunate absence of the vocal percussionist, Peter Huang, Sergeant delivered her short piece on mime technique well, delighting the audience with her ability to relate a story using loud and strong body movements.

'Isolate' was followed by 'Invocation', a piece that silenced everyone from its beginning to its end. This chilling piece was about a girl's prayer to God and how it was answered in an unexpected way. The girl, dressed in white, tattered rags, started to dance a traditional Javanese dance, her fluid movements symbolising her desire for God to help her. Her hands beckoned to God above, pleading with him for guidance. Koh Leng Leng succeeded in portraying a character desperate for her prayer to be answered. In a little girl's voice, she evoked feelings of sympathy in the audience. This voice then changed to a manly, gruff voice, symbolising God's refusal to answer her prayer. The girl rose off the ground, but God pushed her down, and she tried again only to incur God's wrath. Koh exhibited excellent vocal control in this last part as she continually switched from a little girl's voice to one so raw and manly. Eventually, God punished her by blinding her, and the girl walked around aimlessly, still pleading with God. The dark, bare stage assisted in creating a gloomy and miserable atmosphere. This performance captivated me till the very end because I was intrigued by the girl's unwavering faith in God despite his refusal to answer her prayer.

>>'The light-hearted pieces charmed the audience with their humour and wit whereas the serious pieces like provided food for thought'

The next piece, 'Shoebox', was about a girl who finds a shoebox with a history. Although the background music served to add atmosphere to the story, Dawn Fung was not able to effectively capture the character's thoughts and emotions throughout the whole piece (though this was admittedly difficult due to the range of feelings required).

'Mr. and Mrs. O' was about a couple's disintegrating relationship seen from different perspectives. In the first scene, Caleb Yap and Charlotte Chiew face the audience, and do a fantastic job of portraying a husband and wife whose everyday life is mundane and miserable. The following three scenes are almost identical to the first; however, each scene is shown from a different angle, representing the different perspective each partner has of the relationship they are both attempting to salvage. The last scene reveals simultaneously the perspectives of both Mr. and Mrs. O: they stare at each other but eventually, Mr. O decides to walk out of the house, and as he does so he removes the mask that both he and his wife have been wearing since the start of the piece. Mrs. O does the same. The removal of the masks represents the step that the couple has now taken: they are now no longer the married pair they once were; they are now two separate individuals who have given up on their marriage. This piece had a simple plot but it was highly entertaining - in fact, it was one of the best pieces in the production and was a telling reflection of the decline of the family that is evident in Singapore nowadays, with hectic schedules leading to disintegrating relationships between couples.

'Zanni Commits Suicide' was an amusing piece that left the audience in hysterics with the character's hilarious antics. Low Keng Shin delighted the audience as Zanni, the lovable guy who goes to great extremes to win back his girlfriend, whom he believes does not love him any more. This piece was appealing because at first glance, Zanni appears to be a typical, average Joe, but when we witness what he goes through (he goes literally to hell and back) we are introduced to his adventurous side. We also take pity on his plight and secretly hope that there is a happy ending to his story. This piece was easy to follow, thanks in large part to Low's ability to use his body movements to tell the story and tell it engagingly. I thoroughly enjoyed this feel-good piece and was pleased to see Zanni leaving the stage at the end walking hand in hand with the love of his life.

The last two pieces, 'Romeo and Juliet' and 'Re:Cycling' were light-hearted comedy pieces that worked very well. 'Romeo and Juliet' was a particularly interesting piece because two lucky members of the audience were chosen to get up and play the parts of Romeo and Juliet in a ridiculously over-the-top way under Christina Sergeant's direction.

All in all, watching OPEN REHEARSAL was a pleasant way to spend an evening. The light-hearted pieces such as 'Re:Cycling' and 'Zanni Commits Suicide' charmed the audience with their humour and wit whereas the serious pieces like 'Invocation' and 'Mr. and Mrs. O' provided food for thought, allowing the audience to reflect on the current state of society and leading, I'm sure to many interesting discussions afterwards.

>Nadia has been interested in drama since her Punggol Primary School days. She was the chief coordinator for the editorial board in Xinmin Secondary and is currently a student at Meridian Junior College. She is the Flying Inkpot Theatre Reviews' second Student Writer.