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Christmas. New Year's resolutions. "Best of" lists. All signs of a year coming to a close and another one about to begin. Here at the Inkpot, we didn't have time to buy you Christmas presents and we break all our resolutions every year anyway... But our writers did manage to draw up lists of their favourite plays of 2006 for your reading pleasure while you're popping the champagne and singing Auld Lang Syne!

We also got some of the artists whose plays we picked to say a few words.

Obviously, each of our writers can't catch all the plays that are put on in any given year, so we're keen for you to fill in the gaps. What do you think about the plays you saw in 2006? Which were the best and brightest of the year? Use the comments option at the bottom of the page to let us know!

Inkpot Picks 2006

Matthew Lyon's Picks

1. I'm Just a Piano Teacher by The Finger Players
An outstanding ensemble animates Oliver Chong's taut and visually poetic script, supported by striking design across the board.

Writer / director / designer Oliver Chong says:

This is indeed a wonderful Christmas present for The Finger Players and all the people involved in Piano Teacher. First of all, a big thank you to all the folks at The Flying Inkpot, especially Matthew Lyon, and our media friends for the write-ups and reviews. I would like to thank all the cast and crew in the production for their hard work, sweat, tears (literally) and faith. Piano Teacher has made me confront my relationship with my parents, although I couldn't bring myself to invite them to the show. Nevertheless I hope the play resonated with audiences in some way or another!

2. Fundamentally Happy by The Necessary Stage
A tight and surprisingly deep psychological thriller that holds its own against the classics of the genre and fears no controversy.

3. Not I from The Beckett Project by TTRP
Patricia Boyette delivers an unflinching, terrifyingly bleak interpretation of Beckett's experimental theatre classic.

4. Queen Ping by Cake Theatre
Home to the most mind-blowing moments of theatre I experienced this year, as well as to standout performances from Noorlinah Mohamed and Michael Corbidge.

5. The Dresser by The Singapore Repertory Company
Adrian Pang's near-perfect performance carries a slick, ingeniously designed production with a spotty supporting cast.

Kenneth Kwok's Picks

1. Bagaimana Kucing Jadi Gemuk? from Mentah 3: Barisan Puteri Puteri by Teater Ekamatra
Teater Ekamatra's Playwright Mentorship Programme shows that the future of Singapore playwriting remains bright!

Writer / lighting designer Zizi Azah Abdul Majid says:

Thanks, Flying Inkpot, for choosing How Did the Cat Get So Fat? as a pick of 2006. The play started off as a monologue written in the form of a children's fable, very much inspired structurally by Le Petit Prince. The platform that Teater Ekamatra has provided for me has allowed and challenged me to push my thinking about theatre-making. I feel very much in awe of the many talents that I have met in the company such as Fendy Ibrahim, Alfian Sa'at and Alin Mosbit, all of whom have been very encouraging and have greatly affected and influenced my way of thinking about theatre. Having Siti Khalijah to perform the script was a delightful joy because she added another layer of interpretation to the script. Zulkifle Mahmod, who created the soundscape for the performance, created aural textures, which further expanded the narratives onstage.

2. The Dresser by The Singapore Repertory Theatre
Two central performances that both deserve two thumbs up!

3. The Magic Fundoshi by W!ld Rice
W!ld Rice doing what it does best! A raucous and raunchy romp! Rrrrrr!

4. The Candlestickmaker by Indian Ink Theatre Company
Beautiful on so many levels! One of the few shows I've seen that I can honestly say appeals to both adults and children.

5. Cabaret by Toy Factory Theatre Ensemble
Not without its critics but I was blown away! Though not a fan of musicals, I was impressed by the show's high production quality and solid performances and moved by the story it told!

Deanne Tan's Picks

1. Cursive by Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan
An inventive concept translated brilliantly into action. Inspired by Chinese calligraphy, the production used movement, white space, bodies and screens in a multitude of original ways. A visual feast that brought the 2006 Huayi Festival to a new level of aesthetic and artistic experimentation.

2. A Bedfull of Foreigners by British Theatre Playhouse
This professionally executed farce tickled the funny bone with both classy and corny British humour. If Singapore had a Broadway or West End equivalent, this would surely be the number one show.

3. Pulau produced by Adrian Tan
An engaged examination of all the pretty, ugly and horrible things that inhabit our tiny island. Don't be put off by the weird references (like the cannibalistic cows). This was a highly entertaining and overwhelmingly real production.

Director Adrian Tan says:

has been a very personal experience for all of us - our relationship with How Wee's play and with each other has lasted almost two years now, and is still going strong as we endeavour to bring the show on the road to other parts of the world. Our sincere thanks to The Flying Inkpot Theatre Reviews for acknowledging our work, and to the many others who have given us very generous encouragement. We are deeply honoured.

Writer Ng How Wee says:

Wah?! Kena arrow by Inkpot, ah? Kum sia! Happy leh.

4. Second Link by W!ld Rice (review of 2005 run)
A rich spread of "performed literature" from Singapore and Malaysia to satisfy even the most kiasu theatregoer. Second Link not only proved that the arts scenes of the two countries are capable of producing a wide range of quality works, it also hinted at their potential to produce more literary treasures.

5. I'm Just a Piano Teacher by The Finger Players

My favourite anti-hero of 2006, the 40-year-old piano teacher, demonstrated how to turn a life of unremarkable mediocrity into a very memorable bloodbath.

Ng Yi-Sheng's Picks

1. Death and the Ploughman by SITI Company
SITI Company blew my mind with this fantastically experimental revival of a medieval classic, both profoundly intellectual and heart-stirring.

Director Anne Bogart says:

We had a delightful time performing Death and the Ploughman in Singapore and are very happy that it was received with such warmth and enthusiasm. The play, written in 1401 by Johannes von Saaz, feels as though it were ripped off the contemporary landscape. Due to the present global struggles, we are facing essential matters that transcend our previous preoccupations of career advancement, material hoarding and desire-fulfillment. The lens of our times is one where the issues are suddenly elemental and rooted in big personal questions about how to live and contribute to the fragile crucible of our time. Life does not exist without death. How do we face this fact? What do our lives "mean"? How can we live fully in the presence of immense catastrophe and loss?

2. Fundamentally Happy by The Necessary Stage
One of the most finely crafted works from TNS I've ever seen. A wonderful marriage of issue-driven and character-driven theatre, with excellent performances from the cast.

3. A Language of Their Own by Checkpoint Theatre (Fridae review)
An extremely moving, intimate love story, textually rich and resonant, with superb acting from the leads.

4. Mobile by The Necessary Stage
Not without its slip-ups, but stunning in both its scope and its success in conveying the situation of migrant workers today. Essential viewing.

5. The Dresser by The Singapore Repertory Theatre
Incredible acting from the leads, bringing to life a rich and complex relationship; one of the best nights of theatre I've witnessed. Shame about the supporting cast.

Amos Toh's Picks

1. Fundamentally Happy by The Necessary Stage
Tender, trenchant and fraught with emotion at every turn. Under the virtuosic direction of Alvin Tan, Chua Enlai and Aidli 'Alin' Mosbit deliver pulsing performances that easily qualify Fundamentally Happy as the best play I saw this year.

Playwright Haresh Sharma says:

Fundamentally Happy is a play I wrote with Alvin, Alin and Enlai. We started by sharing our thoughts. And when I mentioned my idea of doing something about paedophilia, they didn't flinch. Far from that, Alvin actually emailed me tonnes of research materials on the issue. So thank you Inkpot for noticing this wee play. And hugs to Aidli, Del, Joyah, and Mac. And my best pal Vince. And. [Bill Conti starts playing music]. Matt & Kenneth. Our beautiful & fierce admin grrls. and of course Alvin, without whom the play would be like General Hospital.

2. A Language of Their Own by Checkpoint Theatre (Fridae review)
The ending may be overwrought, and the intrusive appearance of two characters late in the play may have diluted its intensity, but little could mar A Language of Their Own's deeply affecting meditation on the slow yet searing ache of love, loneliness and desire.

3. Second Link by W!ld Rice (review of 2005 run)
There may have been a clear division in quality between the two halves of the play, but at its best, Second Link is a romp through the enticing playground of the imagination, where words fly from their pages and adopt fascinating forms onstage.

Ratings out of 5, based on Practitioner's Vision / Reviewer's Response: ***** = Transcendent / Rapturous;
**** = Crystal / Appreciative; *** = Transmitted / Thoughtful; ** = Vague / Unsatisfied; * = Uncommunicated / Mystified.