How toxic is the shadow of celebrity…? Do our last words reveal anything about us as people…? Can money truly help us find happiness…?
Singaporean playwright Alfian Sa’at’s The Optic Trilogy presents three separate acts – ‘Transparency’, ‘Brilliance’, and ‘Iridescence’ – each involving a Man (Clement Yeung) and a Woman (Manaal Mahjoub) and set on July 25th, 2001. We see in turn: a woman hiringa male escort who expects sex and is instead used as a way for her to try and puzzle out her perception of Singapore as her home; a photographer whose blind model turns out to be the woman he had an obsessive crush on as a teenager; and a woman who proposes to her deceased fiancé’s ex-boyfriend in a complicated processing of grief. Two-hander plays are tricky beasts: there’s nowhere to hide when you only have yourself and one other castmate to drive the narrative from beginning to end. Unfortunately, Yeung and Mahjoub did not overcome this challenge.
Fleabag was delicious. From the neon-pink-edged set to the blaring Peaches song whose title I’m not allowed to print (but which is still stuck in my head), and the wall-to-wall collage of men in varying degrees of undress on the Barron back wall, I was expecting a similarly bold and brash script. And in many ways, it was.
Jez Butterworth’s Parlour Song is a comedic, yet surprisingly tragic exploration of what lies under the surface of seemingly ordinary suburban lives – an engaging and almost voyeuristic look into the gradual breakdown of demolitions-man Ned (Noah Liebmiller), and the affair between his wife Joy (Hannah Raymond-Cox), and their neighbour, Dale (Louis Catliff). Being familiar with the play, I was highly impressed with how well co-directors Alexander Gillespie and Jamie Jones, and their cast, added even more amusement and dimension to the already rich characters and themes of Butterworth’s lesser-known work.