[Theatre Review] Definitely Not Fool’s Gold

twisted kingdom

Illustration: Marc Gabriel Loh

A Twisted Kingdom

Dark Matter Theatrics

12 November 2015

The Substation

12–14 November 2015

Just like the Tarot cards, The Fool (Lian Sutton) in A Twisted Kingdom goes on a journey through life’s mysteries and, in the process of doing so, drudge up his own personal memories and history. He embodies the everyman while telling a very personal story.

Playwright Christopher Fok showcases his mastery of the medium by seamlessly weaving the overarching story of the Fool in search of the prince, references to fairy tales, and the Fool’s painful past into one intriguing tapestry.

While the arrangement of the scenes may appear complicated, there is an indescribable logic to it. Fok achieves the sweet spot of preventing the audience from falling into a passive lull but not pitch it at such an esoteric level that one is unable to get a grip on what is going on.

How does one play the Fool and reopen old wounds at the same time? Sutton has part of the answer. One should not be fooled that a small stage space would make his job any easier. From jumping on the chair and turning it into a horse to donning a doctor’s coat and embodying different sorts of doctors, Sutton is a sensitive story-teller.

The ability to transit into the next scene which is of a very different nature from the previous speaks of an intense rehearsal process. Sutton may be overstretched at times, but the audience is always couple of paces behind the Fool as we eagerly follow him on his journey.

Despite the financial constraints of the production, the designers must be applauded for generously lending their talents. Marc Gabriel Loh’s illustration for the poster and the programme is the best I have seen in a while.

The programme informs us that this production marks Isa Ong’s first foray into music composition for theatre. This makes him one of those annoyingly talented individuals as his music does not indicate a beginner’s attempt. Chew Wei Shan’s haunting vocals towards the end of the show enhances the pathos.

Hakeem Kasban’s lighting design is simple yet effective. Faith Sim’s costume design may appear odd at first but it is wonderfully appropriate in the context of the show. Olivia Vong’s set design makes good use of the space and every item is significant to the story.

Indeed, “The Fool is welcomed everywhere he goes” as one cannot help but stop and listen to his story.

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