>MAYBE KNOT by The Dream Academy

>reviewed by james koh

>date: 13 feb 2000
>time: 8pm
>venue: the victoria theatre
>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.

>>>>>warm and bubbly we love

How does one go about writing a review? Well, one way is to ask yourself various questions about the particular performance - in other words, conduct an interview with yourself. And it goes something like this:

I(nterviewer): So what was the performance that you just watched?

Me: The first production of Selena Tan's series of one-woman shows. Called MAYBE KNOT it features Andrew Lim and it was about the trials and tribulations of Selena Tan growing up and trying to find true love.

I: So how was Selena Tan? Was she outrageously funny? Screamingly hilarious?

Me: Ummmm….. well, she WAS funny and hilarious. But her humour is more charming than outrageous. It doesn't shock you into laughter by making incredulous and exaggerated comments, but rather, invites you in, either by telling stories of growing up or looking for love that strikes a common note, or by poking fun at herself, like her disastrous attempts at finding a mate through the internet.

I: So you were pulled in by the stories of a girl next door?

Me: Oh, definitely. She draws you in with her contagious warmth, congeniality, and her ability in looking at things in a different light, or finding mirth in the least likeliest of situations. Like the way she made fun of her slightly rotund figure by treating it as an example of Singaporean's inalienable right to eat, and to fight for this right at next year's Chingay Parade - that was very hilarious!

I: So less Kumar and Najib and more Norleena and Hossan?

Me: Yep! Kumar and Najib stun you with their forceful personality, their larger than life alter egos. They are, in a sense, iconic. Selena, on the other hand, is like a girl's best friend, a sister's sistah! But beneath her affable demeanor lies a razor sharp tongue that can tear people's reputation down, come up with lewd puns in an instant and carry a conversation with varied sexual innuendoes.

I: So she's part Baby Spice, part Ginger Spice?

Me: Definitely. Though the fact that she can sing so well somehow disqualifies her from being a Spice Girl.

I: She sang? Me: She sang her heart out, baby! Broadway classics like 'He Touched Me' and various Sondhiem favourites were sung throughout the performance. Her voice at times belted them out with gusto, while at other times, was touched by a fragile hint of vulnerability.

I: That good, huh?

Me: It was during her songs that she managed to bring a sense of nostalgia to a lost childhood where the search for The One seemed so easy and certain. At other times, the songs with their clever puns and ingenious lyrics - in fact the lyrics of some of the songs were changed to fit the local context - created much laughter among the audience.

>>'Kumar and Najib stun you with their forceful personality, their larger than life alter egos.'

I: How was Andrew Lim?

Me: Quite a revelation, I must say, in terms of his singing voice. A deep baritone which reverberated with a hidden passion. He must act in a musical one of these days.

I: Anything else?

Me :He was as dependably funny as always. Telling jokes with his straight face and deadpan voice, he was a perfect foil to Selena's bubbliness.

I: How was the chemistry between them?

Me: It wasn't exactly sizzling…… Too many times together on the small screen (and the fact that they are a married couple in 'Under One Roof') means that the initial sparks that were ignited when they first met and acted together have mellowed into a comfortable, almost perfunctory, bantering. It wasn't witty repartee per se, but more amiable teasing. And it has to be said that the fact that he performed only in the second act made the second act seemed too mellow, too tame and mild as compared to the more exuberant first act, in which Selena was able, to quote Mariah, give her all.

I: What was the best thing you liked about the performance?

Me: The audience participation of course! Usually I find such gimmicks really tired - as if the performers were so desperate for an audience reaction that they had to provoke and even force an impression upon the audience.

I: That bad, huh?

Me: But this time round, the audience participation was handled with tactfulness - Selena's charm and affable nature made the games fun and childishly exciting. And the games played - like bouncing a beach ball around the audience to see who will contribute to the Greatest Love Song Ever Written, or getting a couple of guys on stage to prove that Singaporean men can dance - they were funny without being tasteless. And the way Selena managed to sing a song based on the 3 words given to her by the audience to create the Greatest Love Song Ever Written, displayed her uncanny talent for improvisation.

I: What was the downer of the evening?

Me: That the script was quite patchy. At times, it tended to meander quite aimlessly, with jokes that didn't make you laugh (out loud or otherwise) but only brought a smile to your face. What we need is a tighter, more concise and well-paced script with more biting wit and better jokes, please!

I: So was it worth it?

Me: Oh definitely. I can't wait for the second part in her series where she will poke fun at teachers and the education system.

[At this point both 'I' and 'Me' dissolve into said reviewer]: Hopefully the fact that the subject matter is less personal, will allow her a greater freedom to say as many funny things about it as she wants.