If you’ve not read the book in school, which is a required secondary school text reading, you’d still be able to follow the play easily, but to appreciate the play better, I recommend reading the book first.
I had wondered how the play would incorporate so many farm animals and wondered too about the costumes the cast would wear. Would it be as elaborate as Lion King which has beautiful animals’ costumes and headgears?
Well…there was no costume, or even any outer wears. The cast was basically naked safe for the cloths that were wrapped around strategic parts for modesty. Thus they play multiple roles. Chickens one minute, horses another, pigs another time. The cast uses body languages to play the parts of animals well. Clucking chickens are played by squatting and flapping their arms, horses peppered their speeches by neighs, pigs with snorts that were natural you forget that it’s actually quite difficult to snort for a human, unless you are snoring. The horses’ trot were realistic, credits to Gani Addul Karim and Yeo Yann Yann. Pam Oei as Sqealer the pig, was hilarious. Surprisingly, the audience also had a part as the sheep (the most stupid of all the farm animals who could not remember the seven commandments), and we had to repeat after Squealer, four legs good, two legs bad.
The play is part narration and part dramatisation. Credits must be given to Wild Rice for localising the play. The complaint by the animals that humans work them hard and then slaughter them into luncheon meat was funny. At the Battle of the Cowshed where Snowball heroically fought against the humans is accompanied by music from 黄飞鸿 movie. The construction of the windmill, touted by Snowball to be used for means to create electricity for airconditioning, among other things, was also subtle yet noted by the local audiences. Then there is the song to honour Napoleon, sang to the tune of Hokkien hit 爱拼才会赢!
The set was simple, with the back wall dedicated to the writings of the seven commandments which the animals referred to time and time to remind themselves of the cause, but also provided the backbone of the play.
We had a wonderful time. The play was thoroughly enjoyable. The best part to me, is the discussion between us that followed after the play – a good chance to teach the kids on the different political systems in the world, and why repressed society continues to support their tyrant government.
The play is highly recommended, if not for the education, then for an enjoyable evening out.