>cinderel-lah! by w!ld rice

>reviewed by fong li ling

>date: 5 dec 2003
>time: 7:30pm
>venue: the jubilee hall
>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.


CINDEREL-LAH! is a crowd-pleaser; W!ld Rice's pantomime version brings of the well-known and well-loved folktale brings much fun and good cheer this Christmas season.

I believe the story of Cinderella needs no introduction, though there are a few additional characters this time. The play begins with Kumar's portrayal of Ali, a friendly 'Mama' store storekeeper, who acts as narrator. Once again, Kumar proves his versatility as a performer, playing not only Ali, but Jeya, Ali's partner, and playing both equally convincingly.

The rest of the cast is just as stellar, with many of our best-known actors and actresses playing principal roles. Emma Yong's sweet and clear voice hits the right notes as Cindy, the Singaporean Cinderella from Sengkang. This time, she has got herself a best friend, who is her next-door neighbour's Filipino maid, Mercy Relief (played by Bridget Therese, last seen in 'Sylvia!'). Even her Fairy Godmother has transformed into a Fairy God Makcik (Alin Mosbit), and boy does she look like a Malay diva!

>>'The show was accessible to all ages, and was indeed a reminder to those of us who are a wee bit older that they are all still children at heart.'

I suppose it is at the heart of every story at this time of year that everyone needs love. Hence a clever twist arrives in this version when we discover the ugly stepsisters also have their suitors. Cheng and Heng are the Siamese twins working at Ali's 'Mama' store who are in love with Cindy's stepsisters, ironically named Precious and Treasure. Cheng and Heng are a spoof of ACTION Theatre's 'Chang and Eng'; in CINDEREL-LAH!, 'Chang and Eng' alumnus Robin Goh's is joined in his twin costume by new face Darren Seah. Though the two of them do not play very significant roles in the story, they manage to get a lot of laughs from the audience by each playing dual roles, at times cross-dressing to become Carozene and Morphene respectively. Goh's training from 'Chang and Eng' is evident from the ease he shows playing Cheng, and he sings very well indeed. Although Seah's vocals pale in comparison, he stands out when playing Morphene, getting more than his fair share of laughs.

Hossan Leong and Sheikh Haikel likewise make a contrasting and hilarious pair as Precious and Treasure, with a wardrobe most likely from This Fashion. Interestingly, the makeup and costumes cleverly reflect the actors' roles; they follow the stereotypical categorization that the good characters look clean and beautiful, while the evildoers have their faces caked with all sorts of colours and put on horrendous outfits that would alert the fashion police.

The language is not particularly Singlish or heavily littered with dialect, however, certain issues that will probably only be familiar to those who have lived here for some time. For example, there are references to foreign workers and the luohan. There is also a scene where Precious and Treasure abuse Cindy by scalding her with hot water while singing, 'You're Nothing but a Maid'.

Most crucially, the script plays well to both its target audiences: the children are able to follow the story with ease and the adults laugh at the more satirical parts. The interactive nature of the play which saw cast members running around the audience worked a treat and, together with the party atmosphere, created an almost carnival atmosphere that the kids responded to. For the adults, the show was indeed a reminder to those of us who are a wee bit older that we are all still children at heart. It certainly brought out the true essence of a pantomime, and I daresay everyone enjoyed every minute of it.