Review of Boom by Sight Lines Production
Where : DBS Arts HouseWhen : 8pm, Thursday 5th July 2012
Sight Lines Production has taken the Singapore arts scene by storm. And guess what .. this is only their second production. Boom comes hot on the heels of TrainStopping which was showing in early May. Some production houses take at least half a year to produce something at this scale .. and Sight Lines just do it in 2 months. Good job guyz ..
Boom was previously staged in 2008. I was unable to watch it then so am not able to compare the two. However the 2012 version is very good. Everything came together to make Boom v.2012 into a very polished piece of Singapore theatre.
Firstly, it was good to see the hall packed to the rafters. I guess this may be due to the fact that almost 80% were students. Boom is an “O” and “N” level literature text so this gives the opportunity for the students to see-in-action what they have been studying… from a book into a full-out play. I wished I had such opportunities last time when I was doing “An Inspector Calls” during my “Os.” If even a quarter of these students grow up to further their careers into the Arts, it will be good for the local arts scene. However, on the flip side, some of them still need to learn the common courtesies of the theatre .. such as keeping comments to themselves .. keeping quiet while the play is running etc.
When I first walked in .. I noticed the set. It was very much industrial and cold … it was a wall of grey looking segments .. it was only later that I realised it was glass. Not to reveal too much .. all I can say is that the set was the highlight for me. How it worked to heighten the experience of the various scenes. Everything else moved around (front and behind) this “glass wall.” There was very clever use of lighting to accent moments .. I specifically like the sudden switching off effect !!! (complete with loud “CLICK.”) With such a “small” stage, there was a need to also use sounds to create atmosphere and throughout the play, if you listen carefully (and when those around were not talking / commenting) you can hear sound effects which highlight what is being acted. A very big “well done” to the staging / set / lights / sound crew !! The transition of sets looked “automatic” and seemless !!
Now to the acting .. the cast of Boom (v.2012) is not the most ‘famous’ of local cast such as Ivan Heng or Karen Tan or Siti Khalijah but few of them are veterans in their own right. There were 3 main actors .. Andrew Lua, Fanny Kee and Erwin Shah Ismail. And 4 supporting actors … Vincent Tee, Amanda Tee, Benjamin Kheng and Engie Ho.
Tthe acting was good with strong stage presence, clear delivery of lines and distinct show of emotions. Andrew played his roll well as the son and property agent .. one thing is that he seemed to have only happy and sad expressions. Extreme ends with nothing in between. His expressions does not have varying degrees of sadness or happiness. When he was running around .. enjoying the “good life” … same joyous expression .. when he was upset about his mother .. when he was having the final fight with his mother .. after he was “visited” by his father .. same expression of pain and agony. As for Fanny, she was very good in her role as the mother and you could at times also feel her emotions in her acting but to a certain extent, again very extreme expressions. I personally felt that there was quite a bit of “over-acting” at certain parts. Maybe this was the artistic direction to ensure that the audience is able to “feel the pain and the hurt.” Just my opinion. As for Erwin, I have seen him in Spring Awakening and most recently Romeo & Juliet .. he played his role as a civil servant well. BUT not really very fitting to my perception of a ‘scholar.’ I expected more strait-laced … more internal strife between doing the right thing and doing what is right. Other than that well done Erwin .. more relaxed this time. (But I wonder how could he be .. his pants looked so tight !! Don’t ask me why I was looking at his pants.) Also he kept looking at me because from where I was seated .. the spot light shone STRAIGHT onto me during the cemetery scenes and I was like the headstone !!! Takut siah !!
As for the supporting cast, Amanda stood out for me. She was confident and played her many roles well. I found Engie to look very glum and stiff. Maybe she is also tired physically. Benjamin was fine and also did well changing between the roles though I felt he was overly enthusiastic at times.
No one person really “stood out” above the rest as generally the standard was overall pretty high. One minor gripe of mine is the use of dialect. I have no issue with using dialect .. however, it must seem to be natural and a part of the conversation .. rather than coming out as though it was forced into the middle of the sentence to give it some local flavour. The dialect at times had a very “English accent” to it. That made the dialect a bit jarring to the ears.
In conclusion, Sight Lines have shown again their innovativeness and creativity and strong direction sense in the re-staging of Boom. For such a young team, we can only hope for more quality productions from them.
So guys and gals .. Boom is a play for everyone .. buried amidst the laughter is a much deeper play .. one which is very well transmitted via this production and do not be surprised if you feel that little tug on your heartstrings as the play goes along.
“Where else would I be ..” ….