Tuesday, May 1, 2012

.. MRT Excuse Chit ... not Shit ah !! My Review of Trainstopping

I finally caught “TrainStopping” last night at the Old Parliament House, @The Art House. It has been more than a year since I have seen anything @ the Art House and I must say that Sight Lines could not have picked a more apt venue for their debut production. As I was shown my seat (thanks Derrick), I felt like I was brought somewhere else .. away from the hustle and bustle and stresses of life. The mood lighting in the hall (is it a hall??) was calming and so was the music. It was an excellent way to cool down and to prepare the audience for what was about to come..

TRAINSTOPPING !!! This is the first production for Sight Lines, the first professionally staged work under the penmanship of Jeremy Yew and also Derrick Chew’s first foray into the murky waters of directing !! I must say that it came together very well and felt more like a production done by a seasoned production house with a veteran crew. The lines were well written and if caught, you cannot help but chuckle at how they cut deep into the current affairs of the country. Well done to Jeremy who also managed to “redo” the lyrics of so many current songs to “fit” into this revue.

The directorial team also did a good job in putting the relatively narrow and long (portrait-esque) stage floor to good effect. It felt like the actors were up close and personal. There were also all the great small little bits and pieces which bound everything together into the main MRT theme. Good job !

As Trainstopping was touted to be a musical revue of Singapore 2011, there were many skits depicting events in Singapore 2011. There were bits on the recent GE2011 (which were not many thankfully as I feel that this issue had been beaten and killed too many times), the flooding along Orchard Road, issues on Foreign Talent in the most unlikely of places and of course major bits about the MRT incidents. It was also very smart of Jeremy to somehow fit in the message of local culture/art being sidelined in Singapore. With so many skits, there are bound to be some misses. For some of the skits, I felt that the impact was lost because there was either too little impact or too little explained …

The actors on the other hand are all veterans to this industry. It was great to see Darius, Celine and Siti working together on so many of the skits and best of all, combining their voices to great effect. Darius was as usual, funny with his nasal voice (except when singing) and funny expressions. Celine was good but I felt that she could be bit more expressive and less hesitant. It is my opinion that Siti stole the show. She is such a natural in her comedy and it is no wonder she won the 2011 Life! Theatre awards best actress. Her delivery of her lines were accurate and smooth. During her solo skit as a Malay girl going to get married, it felt as though she was talking to the audience as naturally as talking to her best friends. I understand Malay language so I found her Malay jokes / nuances very funny. (KETIAK BUSUK!!!)

The one issue I had with Trainstopping was the sound quality. It was at times quite difficult to hear the lines clearly because they were either muffled or drowned out by the loud music. This may also be due to where I was sitting or the acoustics in the venue. (ed : Who plays loud music in parliament???? LoL) Looking at some of the puzzled faces of the other people in the crowd meant that I was not the only one having some issues with catching the words. At certain parts, the lights were pretty glaring as well. Also because of the colors picked for the stage lights, it seemed as though the actors were in 3D !!! (might be my eyes???)

In conclusion, Trainstopping was a well put together and the music lines really played into the actors strengths. It felt very relaxed and though there were some misses, I can guarantee that there are enough hits to make your evening. Do not expect a show of loud, bawdy laughter .. but more a revue of good music, chuckles and giggles on the funny events of Singapore in 2011. Good job to the “virgin” writer, director and Sightlines. I hope to see more soon …

Anywayz folks .. pls get your tickets at www.bytes.sg and GET THEM SOON as you have only 3 more days !!! No excuses .. MRT breakdown ALSO you must get there !!!


  1. Hi, thanks very much for your lovely review. Glad you enjoyed the show!

    Just to point out that the lyrics were written by Derrick and Darius. I only wrote the script, but even then, it was largely a collaborative effort and both Derrick and all the actors contributed a lot of wonderful ideas to the script.

    Thanks once again for the encouraging words. =)

  2. Ok ok fine .. ALL of you did well :) LoL !!! I was hoping to catch you and have a chat with ya after the show. But I had to rush off because I was running late. Some other time then.

  3. Yup, look forward to meeting up one day!

  4. Hi Nicholas,

    I was wondering if you'd like to come by Lan Fang Chronicles, a show I'm involved in this year, and possibly write about it: