>7x7 by spell#7

>reviewed by kenneth kwok

>date: 9 may 2002
>time: 8 pm
>venue: spell#7, kerbau road
>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.


Hello. Good to see you again. Remember that great deal you closed back in Iceland? Selling fake missiles to the underground? Remember? Remember how it all started? When the Power Cabal found you and brought you into their secret headquarters? Don't worry, kid. We'll train you to use your powers. You're in the Cabal now, kid. You're one of us.

Remember that time in Alaska? When all the dogs died? And we had to bribe the wolves with pate de campagne to get them to pull our sled? If you can remember it, it must be true, mustn't it? It does explain everything, doesn't it? Why you feel so angry? Why you find it so hard to trust? You have to accept it. That's the first step of healing. Now all the rest of your life will start to make sense. Remember Brando fell off his bike when he saw Madonna hitchhiking?

Smooth and hard in tongues of gray snaking feather touches strokes of orange memories in mazes spun of hopeful whistles. Remember the day your parents took you to the circus? How the trapeze people invited you into their act? And everybody loved you, remember? I don't remember your name. I love your metal. It's so smooth. What walks on four legs in the morning, is black and white and flies?

>>'If an elephant had suddenly belly-danced out from the toilet, I would have just accepted it as fact (although sadly, nothing as audacious or truly shocking was on display that night).'

An internationally-renowned theatre reviewer once said that when writing a review, the writer must try and capture for the reader a sense of what it was like to be at the performance. They should be able to read your review and gain an insight to what it would be like to have seen the show so that they can decide if they would like to do so.

Spell#7's '7x7' reminded me most of #83 of Rachel Pollack's run of the weirdo comic book series, 'Doom Patrol'. 'Remembrance of Lives Passed' was about how the villain, False Memories, went around implanting erm, false memories in everyone's head and basically, the issue was a series of random lines like those above.

7x7 is also about memories, snatches of them, as represented in the form of disjointed text, movement, visual images, video and sound. As with dreams and false memories, there is a sense that anything can happen. And it does. If, in the middle of a line, actor Chua Enlai suddenly falls to the ground and starts pounding the floor like he's doing synchronized swimming without the water, swimsuit or even, in fact, the swimming, then that's okay. If Janice Koh suddenly leads everyone in a Latin dance in the middle of a lovers' quarrel between two nuns and a young man, that's okay too.

Sometimes threads are sustained for a couple of minutes; sometimes not. And the whole thing just rocks and rolls and jumps around and you're not sure what is going on. Are you expected to? Probably not. But then, what's the point if you just don't care? - a criticism often leveled against Pollack who at least still created overarching themes and strong characters for readers to invest in.

I'm sure Paul Rae and company may well have spent a lot of time crafting 7x7 and picking and choosing what they wanted from the large body of visual and aural text they devised in rehearsals, but for the members of the audience - for this one at least, and for the couple of people I saw nodding off - it's a case of why bother when it doesn't matter? If an elephant had suddenly belly-danced out from the toilet, I would have just accepted it as fact (although sadly, nothing as audacious or truly shocking was on display that night).

7x7 was freakish but not fun or funny, imaginative but not interesting, crazy but not careful and loony but really, perhaps a little bit lazy. Ultimately, I guess it says it all that I found this play about memories so very forgettable.

But fair play to these mavericks and their fans: if this is what floats their boat, then good luck to them. Clearly, there is a market for this sort of thing, so go if you are up for 50 minutes of random sensory overload (think MTV links). But no, this is definitely not going to be your cup of tea if, like me, you remember a time when theatre was something you went away from, caring about what you saw (characters, storyline, theme … anything!) on stage.