>one hot light by peel arts

>reviewed by daniel lim

>date: 21 apr 2002
>time: 8pm
>venue: the guinness theatre, the substation
>rating: see below

>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.


ONE HOT LIGHT showcases the collective efforts of two playwrights, Pua En and Eleanor Tan, and delves into the issues and anxieties facing contemporary Singaporeans. In approach, the first attempts to tease the mind, while the latter goes a little bit deeper down to the heart.

>'HOT SPRING' by Pua En (*1/2)

Upon reading the synopsis, I had no inkling of the plot, as I was supposed to "uncover the layers of meaning built upon the jumbled timelines and incoherent dialogue". It left little hope for the actual performance.

HOT SPRING is about the trials and tribulations of four severely incompatible individuals (a television host, her estranged "best" friend, an ex-convict and a tidbits hawker) congregating together in a hot spring with ruinous consequences.

The whole play spewed tragedy, as the attempts to mimic Tarentino-like jarring random scene reconstructions left me confused, irritated and bothered. The plot was disengaging and overly simplistic, with nothing to look forward to besides the efficient scene changes supplemented by groovy background music.

The issues addressed, like the AIDS stigma and socio-economic disparity, were overshadowed by the softness of the casting. Surprisingly, the voices were not strong enough to project - and even in the small, enclosed space of the Guinness Theatre, the expressions were constrained and the dialogue was indeed incoherent. No light was shed on the characters or the direction of the play. To my immense relief, the play ended - albeit as consistently distortedly as it started - inciting in me the urge to flee from the scene of the crime.

>>'Two plays. Both simple. Same intentions. The result? Poles apart.'

>'GOT A LIGHT?' by Eleanor Tan (****)

GOT A LIGHT? is about an alcoholic architect, a teenager forced to grow up too soon, an estranged couple and a drugged-up reluctant teenage prostitute; and their struggles with their respective vices (alcohol, drugs and sex). A fatal accident sets off a series of chance encounters where the characters touch and shape each other's life-paths.

Du'c Hoang as Lucien the reformed ex-alcoholic cum eventual despondent spirit served as an appropriate fulcrum upon which the rest of the characters based their insights. The drugged-up juvenile prostitute Faith (Felicia Oh) was squeamishly delightful in her recovery back to innocence; especially with her puppy love motions and glances at her ex-drug pusher Keenan (Julius Sim), who played a perfect doofus - an innocent yet streetwise teenager.

My only quibbles were that it wrapped-up with a typical Hollywood happy ending; and 90 minutes of performance with more than thirty fade-out scene changes was really painful.

However, after HOT SPRING, this passage of cardinal excess, regret and eventual repentance was thoroughly enjoyable. The story was simple, straightforward and tugged at the heartstrings… lightly.

Two plays. Both simple. Same intentions. The result? Poles apart. But I guess that's life. You never know what you are going to get.