Friday, February 28, 2020

Depression is such a dirty word. Or is it? - My review of Pangdemonium’s ‘The Son’

How many of you know of someone who is suffering from depression or anxiety or have suicidal tendencies or are self-hurting themselves? How many of you know of someone who has attempted or committed suicide? How many of you think that being happy means not having depression? Is that person yourself? In today's ever increasing complex society, there are so many issues and circumstances which can lead someone to depression such as cyber bullying, relationship breakups, peer pressure, parental pressure, work pressures, school pressures and more and more. Are we doing enough to help these people? How are we doing so? Is it a case of “just suck it up .. it is a part of life and growing up.” 

I just watched Pangdemonium’s The Son at the Drama Centre theatre and I must say it was truly remarkable. This show revolves around a family whose son is going through depression and how the family is torn apart by this. The father is a successful professional who wholeheartedly loves his son and will do what it takes to help his son recover. However, is he truly doing what his son really needs or doing what he ‘thinks’ his son needs? Is he truly helping the son or harming his son? Is he really listening? This is the main premise of this show and though it may seem simple, this show will exhibit to the audience the complexities of someone facing depression and how things can get worse by ‘loving’ the person.

The two main roles were played by the father-son duo of Adrian and Zachary Pang. In my previous reviews, I have mentioned several times of how Adrian Pang stands out as one of the most gifted actors in Singapore. His ability to transmit the feelings of joy, worry, fury and sadness is just amazing. At the end of the show, you can see the exhaustion on his face from his focus and passion in his acting. Zachary seems to have inherited his father’s talent. His role as the son was played well. The tone of his voice, his body language, the gestures he makes is so natural that you can’t help but feel that he is really a teenager facing depression. Maybe as they are father-son in real life makes their portrayal seem so much more natural and yet heart-wrenching to watch. The two other roles were played by Shona Benson (the mother) and Sharda Harrison (the new partner). The two ladies also were very good in their performances.  

Throughout the show, I can’t help but feel like I was looking through a window of a real family facing these problems. The set of the show is simple but fitting of this show. Just a normal living room in a normal home. Minimal furniture to distract you from the captivating performance of the cast.

Kudos to Pangdemonium for being special and daring to bring such a provocative but yet relevant show to us. This is not your typical ha-ha-ha kind of show but one which tackles serious a real-life topic in an entertaining, unforgiving, no-holds-barred manner. A big thank you and congratulations to Tracie Pang for her excellent direction in this production. I could feel the audience really moved by the brutally honest direction of the show.

Personally, I am very glad that there was a very healthy turnout for a weekday evening show. I am glad that people are winning against the fear of Covid-19 and supporting our local arts. As long as the support is there, I am sure people like Pangdemonium will continue to be energised and motivated to produce more such high-quality theatre for us.

I would like to end on a more serious and sombre note. Depression is all around us, heck we may be facing it but we term it as ‘work-stress’ or ‘just being tired.’ Depression is very real and is no joking matter. If you know someone facing depression, please do something about it. If you think you are facing depression, please do something about it.

Go get your tickets at SISTIC to Pangdemonium's The Son and you will see and feel the reality of depression. I implore parents of teenagers to go watch this as what you think as ‘teenage angst’ may be hiding a darker reality. I ask for parents of future teenagers to watch this so that you can identify the signs early. Finally, I fully recommend everyone to watch this as this is very relevant today and hopefully it will jolt you and you can do something to help someone or yourself. Please don’t wait until its too late …

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