>PRIVATE PARTS by Temasek Hall

>reviewed by sherrie lee

>date: 15 jan 1999
>time: 8pm
>venue: the dbs auditorium
>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.

>>>>>an intimate affair

The DBS Auditorium was buzzing with anticipation and excitement. Front-of-the-house was clad in stylish black, VIPs were being seated and large groups of students came to support their friends. And all the applause at the end of the show was well deserved, if only for the tremendous amount of effort put in by the Temasek Team. It showed particularly in the production aesthetics of costume and set, and those elements were really the gems for the night.

The production was some way short of slickness with hiccups in lighting and sound cues, ham acting and nervous instances. In the opening, apart from the dazzle of lights and sets, the scene of the dancing Dream Girls was quite laughable, not so much that it was comic, but for the inconsistent energy displayed: "Diana" (Marcus) was too busy dancing with two left feet while gathering laughs from the audience and there was little enthusiasm from the one or two dancers, perhaps too caught up with getting the dance over and done with. It lacked punch, suffice to say, and this faux pas lead on to more ham and spam.

>>'The production was some way short of slickness'

The actors playing guests for the talk show, TODAY IN SINGAPORE, were way over the top, while lead actor, Kwek Buan Him, who plays Warren Lee the talk show host, was just warming up. The talk show ended in a disaster and so nearly did the first part of the play. But not to say that things just carried on badly. After the warming up session, Buan Him was more comfortable with his role and turned in a decent portrayal of the pretty boy of TV.

However, like most of the characters, "Warren Lee" was played with little depth or serious thought. But not that the script gave many opportunities either. It was a laugh-along session for most of the play and the naughty band of Mirabella (Milton Tan), Lavinia (Ang Lai Lee) and Vasoo (Simon Gan) entertained in all earnestness. (Milton Tan, who played the main transexual, was commendable in drag, whether funny or serious.) When there were serious moments though, they didn't seem enough. For serious and sensitive matters like transexuality and identity, not all is clear through a bit of confrontation and affirmation. The more reflective moments came up short with little attention to the complexities of life.

The supporting cast was amatuerish at times but the members were whole-hearted in their roles. Special mention must be made of Tara Lim who played the editor of the talk show. A pity she wasn't given a more prominent role. Her cool and professionalism was a contrast to the over acting and lack of subtlety.

In the end, PRIVATE PARTS had not enough dramatic exploration and too much comic exploitation. And more could have been made out of the cabaret atmosphere and energy. But it was good time to get away from books and be entertained by fellow students. Certainly not Broadway, hardly 'Beauty World', but definitely a noteworthy student production.