>SPARKLESHARK by Imaginarts

>reviewed by arthur kok

>date: 29 may 2001
>time: 8pm
>venue: the drama centre
>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.


Where does one find an eclectic bunch of Brit, trash-talking, uniformed guys and gals? Why, atop a block of HDB flats, of course! At least that was where the promotional material pitches the context. However, little by way of set, acting or script insists that the unfolding drama be anything local.

Arm-rails provide the only access to this rooftop getaway. Here, a yellow armchair holds court amidst brooms, buckets and a lone antenna. These elements of home seem to sit uncomfortably in view of the set up's illegality that in turn indicates a pressing need for a home away from home. It is in this unthreatening fabricated space where the soul is free to soar. It is here where a schoolboy is accustomed to pen his tales of fancy alone.

His private space soon becomes peopled by those persecuting or admiring him. A story of fantastical proportions unfolds as this summit hideout is fully stocked by its pubescent dreamweavers. Willing or unwilling, every boy or girl soon enthuses in their contribution to a tale of medieval magic and mayhem.

>>'The cast ably refocused the audience onto their energetic and spirited delivery'

Although the enunciation was at times an uneven spectrum-sampling of British accents, the cast ably refocused the audience onto their energetic and spirited delivery. Stamping and posturing, the refreshing cast delivered an enjoyable afternoon romp. Significantly, the performance's success hinged very much on the minor characters. With a slavish but unrequited affection toward a certain male-other, Carol (Kate Naughton) endeared herself as the wannabe bimbo who finally made good. Sidekicks in their own right, Speed (Ben Matthews) and Buzz (Zachary Mosalle), added that extra dash that lifted the play to its comic high points.

While the audience comprised mainly secondary school girls, I thought the play would easily have appealed to adults not too hung up about deconstructive social commentaries minus linear narrative. After all, scriptwriter Philip Ridley manages to work darker shades of abortion, guilt and familial estrangement into the broader comic brushstrokes of peer-acceptance, puppy-love and playacting.

A good fairytale somehow breaks free of its context of creation to settle in other fertile minds, borne aloft by the wings of fanciful fun. SPARKLESHARK manages to do just that, standing out as a whimsical bauble in a flea market stall.