>reviewed by james koh

>date: 19 mar 1999
>time: 8pm
>venue: the drama centre
>rating: not rated

>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.


PEER PLEASURE is part of an annual event organised by The Necessary Stage, which allows various schools to stage plays in collaboration with The Necessary Stage. In such a way, the students of these respective schools will be able to understand the mechanics involved in staging a play, and the process of putting the printed word onto the stage. As such, this becomes an outlet for teenagers to voice out the problems they are facing and the issues that are pertinent to them. This year the two schools involved are Raffles Girls' Secondary School and St Gabriel's Secondary School.

>>'Despite the too easily resolved ending, the play was satisfying.'

'To Touch the Stars' by Raffles Girls' Secondary is a play made up of fragmented narratives, each of which are either physical or metaphorical journeys experienced by the characters and which are linked by teenage anxiety about the future. The play dealt with teenage angst and rebellion, death and suicide, loss and finally redemption. The handling of the subject matter was mature, which gave the older audience something to think about and yet because of its relevant themes and issues, did not alienate the younger audience. Moreover, the play was coherent and focused, which perhaps resulted from the fact that the actresses themselves were directly involved in the process of bringing their individual characters to the stage. This also was seen from the subtle characterisation of the play; yet the nuances of these characters were not fleshed out properly, due to the acting capabilities of the actresses, who were not extraordinary, but merely competent. Despite the too easily resolved ending, the play was satisfying as it showed that if these students are to be the inheritors of Singapore theatre, then the future of theatre is in safe hands

However, this could not be said of 'Yesterday My Classmate Died' by St Gabriel's, which was amateurish and like felt like it belonged in the school hall and not in a professional theatre. The mawkish and awkward script did not deal maturely with the reactions of a class after the death of one of their classmates. This was seen especially with the inclusion of cheap one liners and sexual innuendoes in the play, which provoked laughter form the audience, detracting from the tragedy of the death. Cheap laughter was also provoked by the occasional use of a chorus - made up of a group of actors - which did not add solemnity or pathos to the play, but because of their wooden and unnatural monotone reading of their lines, was comical. Moreover, the direction was high-handed, such that at times, the melodrama became farcical - especially in the pretentious ending, where each of the students held a stalk of chrysanthemum, wallowing in their supposed grief. It also did not help that most of the actors were highly incompetent, making an already bad script even worse.

So in which direction is the youth theatre heading? Well despite the disheartening fact that the younger audience clearly enjoyed the play by St Gabriel's Secondary more, one can only hope that it is the former play and definitely not the latter.