Monday, September 24, 2012

Review : Nervous Sharks on Preview Night ...

Cover Photo
Review : Swimming with Sharks by Pangdemonium Productions          
Venue : Drama Centre Theatre
Date : 20 September 2012 @ 8pm (preview night)

As I was walking from my chicken rice dinner (@ Seah Street) to the National Library, I was wondering what to expect from Swimming with Sharks (SwS). It was one of those things where I knew close-to-nothing about .. I didn’t watch the Kevin Spacey movie .. neither did I read up about it on Wiki. All I knew was Adrian Pang, Janice Koh and George Young were in it and directed by Tracie Pang. Also I knew it had something to do with horrible bosses and backstabbing in the world of Hollywood.

As I approached the Front of House (FoH), I was reminded that this was the preview night and to remember that this is their first-est night .. the night before opening night … and not be too critical. It was a pretty full-out crowd .. mainly in the mid 20s to late 30s.

The set was fairly elaborate and detailed .. two levels … reception area and a office/lounge area. The opening sequence on the screen set the tone for the night and was a good light-hearted ice-breaker.

The story is very good and brilliant. As I promised not to provide any storyline spoilers .. I will not talk about it but focus on the overall acting on SwS. Adrian Pang was clearly AHEAD of anybody else on that stage. His acting was sharp and delivery of lines was precise. Janice in her role as Dawn Lockhart was fairly good with lots of emotion in her acting. I could feel her pain and sadness through her voice and body language during parts of the show. I think Janice is a very pretty lady and she suited that role as the “seductress.”

The third main actor was George Young. George could be considered the leading actor in this play as he appeared in almost all scenes from the start to the end. This also meant that he would be up acting with Adrian and Janice most of the time. I felt that George was overshadowed by Adrian and Janice. His acting was very much single-dimension without much depth. He delivered his lines fairly well (though there were a couple of miscues in words) and his emotions only showed on his face and the volume of his voice. He was either happy or sad. Nothing much in between. When he was angry .. he looked sad .. when he was drunk .. he looked happy .. when he was sad .. he looked sad .. I think you get the idea. Even during the “happy” scenes with Janice … he seemed like he was just amused. He seemed better after the interval.  I also felt that it was very strange and unnatural for him to like “bend down” every time he was talking to Janice. I know there is a height difference but you can always maintain eye contact though not at the same level.

The supporting actors / actress were fine though nothing outstanding and their parts were also very small to comment upon.

The set design was nice and looked the part with expensive sofas and furniture. However, the gripe I had was that the video screens at the top half couldn’t be seen clearly from the sides of the theatre. The bottom half of the screens were cut off due to the staircase and the floor of the second level. I do admit that the videos shown were only a tiny part of the play (more for dramatic effect and to cleverly insert a short internal to allow for costume changes). There were certain portions where I could not hear the actors as well. This was especially so when the actors were “upstairs.” When they were downstairs, front and centre I could hear them very clearly. The faces of the actors were also partially blocked when they were upstairs around the table.

Overall, I feel that SwS has a very good storyline full of twists and witty lines thrown in. I especially like the transition in George's character as the story progressed. The direction and choreography of the play was also very well done by having "several layers" of scenes within one (ie. something happening in the background while we are focussed on the foreground)  However, based on what I saw, it could have been slightly better. The acting could be a tad tighter and controlled. I cannot help but compare SwS with Spring Awakenings (also produced by Pangdemonium : earlier 2012). In Spring Awakenings I could feel the story as it grabbed me by the shoulders, slapped me around and spat at me while I was left crying. The acting was powerful and the story came alive and I left feeling in awe. As for SwS, the 3 lead roles were extremely important as they represented almost 90% of the play. It was crucial that these three roles were played strongly .. I left feeling like something was missing .. I left feeling that so much more could be done to make the show more complete and something to remember .. I assume it was down to the jitters and the nerves of “preview night” ….

All things considered, I still think that SwS is worth catching and is an excellent way of spending your evening (there is a chance of winning Club Med trips too). It is a very well scripted play with good acting and an excellent storyline. It is definitely something different .. but hey .. Pangdemonium does different very well...

…. Several friends caught SwS on Sunday 23/9/2012 and they felt that it was better but also the sound and set issues still remained … I may go watch it again sometime this week .. *BanG!!!!*

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Akan Datang !! "Swimming with Sharks" by Pangdemonium Productions!

Pangdemonium Productions! has been quiet this year with only “Spring Awakening” in February. Their second major production for the year is “Swimming with Sharks” which is going to be staged at the Drama Centre Theatre from 20 Sept – 7 Oct 2012.

In a nutshell, “Swimming with Shark”s is set in Hollywood and promises to portray the seedy, back stabbing and fake world of show business. Not between actors & actresses but between the producer, screenwriter and film maker to be exact. The three main roles will be played by Adrian Pang, Janice Koh and George Young. We all know how talented Adrian Pang is on stage with his unique and strong acting ability and is (in my personal opinion) one of the best ‘English-speaker’ in our local arts scene in relation to his delivery of his lines. I have yet to see Janice and George in a theatre setting but if they are good enough for Pangdemonium .. they must be pretty good !!!
Chk out those teeth .. hahaha..

Pangdemonium Productions! have always ‘dared’ to do the difficult productions and I thank them for bringing these shows to our shores so that we can have something different but yet sprinkled with some local flavour. This is thanks to Tracie Pang who is the producer of “Swimming with Sharks“ as well as the producer of “Spring Awakening” and “Dealer’s Choice”.

I cannot wait to catch this next week and I am pretty confident that my review of “Swimming with Sharks” will be good. This show has been highly publicized across all forms of media and was just highlighted in this morning’s ‘AM show’ and on 93.8FM earlier today. 

I wonder .. was there any back stabbing between the actors during the filming and did Adrian get all power-crazy in real life? We shall never know …
Get your tickets here ...