I just realised at today’s performance that we may be the only media source covering this show. Not very surprising, given that it’s basically a student show, and tickets are going for just $8-$12 (which is a tenth of what other shows are selling for).
But too bad for Mayo, Adeline and Parvathi (actually, has Business Times been covering the Fest at all?), because this series of five contemporary dance pieces was really pretty good – I utterly hearted 3/5 of the pieces, while the other 40% were also pretty fun to watch.
The above video is Lee Mun Wai of THE Dance Company: he choreo-ed a killer segment with one dancer each from NUS, SMU, ITE and Republic Polytechnic exploring the dramatically lit expanse of Victoria Theatre.
Can’t give too much away: still have to do a full review, after all. (Can’t do it tonight because I lost my programme, bugger it.) But there’s still a show tomorrow, 8pm at Victoria Theatre. Go if you can. It’s worth it.
More info here.
By Tim Crouch
Tim Crouch’s solo deconstruction / reconstruction of Malvolio, the steward from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, was at once a visceral yet cerebral affair. Played out ostensibly like some burlesque clown-act, Crouch slyly used Malvolio’s puritanical worldview as a lens through which he examined the tragedy that so often lies at the heart of comedy.
The performance began with Malvolio already reduced, following the machinations in Twelfth Night, to a fool (and not necessarily a wise one). He then went on to alternately bait and berate the audience, chiding us as if we were wanton bullies, for the delight that we took in his degradation. In doing so, Crouch compelled us to confront our own schadenfreude: the pleasure that we derive from another’s pain.
Simultaneously, Crouch humanised Malvolio by giving voice to the ingrained insecurity, loneliness and repression that underscored the steward’s anxiety to maintain disciplined propriety and dogmatic control. As Malvolio came to realise the futility of his actions, affections and ambitions in a nihilistic universe devoid of natural order and divine justice, his existential angst and despair were heart-wrenching, but also hilarious, to witness.
Consider this, theatre-hating Malvolio then asked of the audience: in a world where the very touchstones of one’s identity – gender, status and integrity – are treated as if they were no more than props and playthings in an unending pageant of pretence, how can one ever know who anyone truly is? Can one even know oneself?
Of course, it is this very conceit of mistaken identity, one of Shakespeare’s favoured dramatic devices, which drives the action in Twelfth Night. In Malvolio’s detailing and re-detailing of the contrivances and improbabilities of the plot, he laid bare the inherent absurdity of the theatrical construct – but for which the audience, always bloodthirsty for bawdy, brutal entertainment, readily suspends its disbelief.
Thereafter, Malvolio proceeded to clean himself, remove the filthy costume that he had found himself in, and re-dress (redress?) himself in his steward’s attire. Carried out before the voyeuristic gaze of the audience, this reverse transformation, from the shit-stained butt of everyone’s joke to the corseted caretaker of order and morality, was an uneasy reclamation by Malvolio of his perceived identity.
And thus Malvolio, seemingly reborn, purported to exact his promised revenge by leaving the whole pack of us with only the stage: shorn of any spectacle, stripped of all action. As Beckett might have declared, ‘Nothing to be watched.’ Before Malvolio exited, however, he could not help but take one final, contemptuous look at the stage curtains – as if they had somehow conspired and connived to hide from him the truth of his existence.
Did this apparent reformation of Malvolio represent a genuine release from the dungeon, or merely a reprieve before his execution? On my part, I did not sense that any restoration or redemption awaited him. Rather, it seemed to me that in the unseen darkness of that backstage area, there lurked only desolation and death for a broken man, teetering on the verge of madness.
Crouch showed, through the simplicity of his stagecraft and the conscious artlessness of his performance, an acute probity and playfulness in his interrogation of human nature and dramatic artifice. By taking us to, then abandoning us in, that liminal space between pride and shame, love and hate, sanity and lunacy, order and chaos and ultimately, comedy and tragedy, Crouch revealed to us the incisive ingenuity of his theatre.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: dance/film, emily of emerald hill, football football, heroine, maybe forever, o sounds, wind shadow, Zai Kuning
In a commentary on T.H.E. Dance Company’s “O Sounds” I mentioned the case of a strange topless man emerging wearing sunglasses.
In a comment to the post, Sze asked:
“Is this a theme for SAF 2010? Unfathomable appearances of guys in sunglasses? Quick tell me if you spot some more.”
This is the conversation that followed.
me: eh, what was the other case of sunglasses?
oh i know
Chan: I was thinking about wind shadow and the sunglassed muscle mary generals
me: football football also had sunglassed nude character!
skinny muscle mary
IT’S THE THEME OF THE FESTIVAL
we have discovered THE KEY.
Chan: now we need to see if arco renz and meg stuart have them too.
me: if not, we must plant them there
i bet zai kuning will be wearing them
me: although he also not muscle mary
and heroine cannot possibly have a muscle mary
me: never mind. i will bribe margaret chan to wear them during emily
Chan: heehee yes do. and danny during the dance film forum.
me: I SHALL NOW WEAR SUNGLASSES TO EVERY SHOW I WATCH AT ARTS FEST
AND DISPLAY THEM PROMINENTLY DURING TALKBACKS!