By J. Raven Yep
When did time come to a standstill?
The M1 Singapore Fringe Festival opened on 7 Jan at the National Museum with the theme of Art & The Family. Launching the event was Frozen Angels, a production by The Necessary Stage.
As the invited guests descended down the National Museum escalators from the opening reception to the Museum Gallery Theatre, we found ourselves in a Black Box with flashes of images projected onto two screens. The images depicted close-up shots of blinking eyes, cityscapes, skies, nature, technology – everything to do with the modern world.
The production begins with a two person monologue, each sharing their stories about death and family before they exit the stage and the play starts with its title projected onto the screens in the background.
Frozen Angels discusses the advancement of technology and how it has shaped the way the current and future generations are likely to view family life and the meaning of life itself. Set in a not-so distant future, where stem cell research has advanced to the point of extending human lifespan and curing a huge number of illnesses, Frozen Angels covers this topic in a 3-part situation, which can be seen via an aging couple, a single father with his daughter and a foreign worker and a soliciting business partner.
Director Alvin Tan, playwright Haresh Sharma and actors Najib Soiman and Siti Khalijah portray these situations in a local context which is easily relatable, matched with a combination of English, Singlish, Malay, Net language and even the occasional Hokkien expletive. Together, the duo reflect how various people feel about life, family and death.
The desperation of a daughter to save her dying mother, the struggling worker who has to deal with supporting his family or helping his business partner, a suffocated daughter leaving her sick father and a woman wanting to leave this world together with her love to be with him for eternity. These situations are played sequentially as the actors transit easily into different roles.
With captivating images and relatable dialogue, the only grouse I have about Frozen Angels would be the lack of subtitles for its Mandarin and Malay parts (the Mandarin translation was distributed AFTER the show). It had an anti-climatic ending for me, featuring the two actors dancing to light hearted, happy music before disappearing into a dead, dark mood yet again.
Perhaps this production could be seen as a chain of modern thought that runs through our youths and even the working generation – how we take our families for granted, how we want to run away from problems, seeing them as a burden and tasting a bitter regret only when they are gone. A line said in the play ran through my mind as the play came to a close.
“Because we have no more friends, because we have no more family. All of them have stopped taking the injections. I am 200 years old this year, are you really happy?” – Frozen Angels
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This review is part of ArtZine’s Special Coverage of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival. Read our reviews of the other festival performances here.