I was lucky to catch Pangdemonium’s production of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice as part of Asceendas’ client appreciation night.
This play by Jim Cartwright was cleverly adapted for the local audience, which made the play familiar and nostalgic. This play shows how Singlish phrases could be cleverly incorporated into perfect English without having the cast resort to speaking like Phua Chu Kang.
Set in 1970s Singapore, specifically in famous Bugis and Katong, the stage was rotated between a night club at Bugis and a pre-war terrace house at Katong. I was very impressed by the details of the house setting, which reflected the architectural interior perfectly, right down to the sloping roof. Credit goes to set designer Eucien Chia.
As we streamed into the theatre before the start of the show, we were greeted by a three-men band in dark glasses playing oldies. The BCG band, (yep, it stands for that inoculation jab all Singaporeans get when they reach 12.), other than provides live music to the singers, is also a comic act in themselves.
LV (Mina Kaye), or Little Voice, is so nick-named because of her mousy personality and small voice, in contrast to her loud-mouth mother Mari (Denise Tan). She hides in her room, listening to records by famous divas left behind by her late father, much to the chagrin of her mother. Alone, she sings in the voices of the great singers like Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Shirley Bassey etc. Her singing talent is discovered by Mari’s boyfriend Ray Say (Adrian Pang), who convinces Mari that LV is the chance for them to turn their fortune around. But LV needs persuading to sing in front of a crowd, and I thought the first half of the show spent too much time in setting the story line in place for LV’s transformation. Thank goodness the cast did a fabulous job pulling the script along.
Mr Boo (Richi Budhrani), as the nightclub owner, is the bridge between the audience and the play, and on the night I attended, the audience who paid for table seating in front was mercilessly being poked fun by him.
Fatimah (Siti Khalijah) plays Mari’s best friend and holds her own role well without being over shadowed by Mari. I was as surprised at her impromptu performance at the nightclub stage, as by LV’s performance on stage.
LV’s debut on stage was in my opinion, the climax of the whole play. The transformation from a timid girl to a stage singer left the audience open-mouthed and speechless. Mina Kaye is indeed an awesome actress and she is perfect for the role of LV. Her voice changes from singer to singer and the versatility of it left me initially in doubt as to whether she was really singing or a recording was used. To further localised the play, she even sang a Teresa Tang song.
But to just give her credit wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the cast. All the actors put up incredible performances that was impressive on their own.
So that’s why you shouldn’t miss this play, which is playing at the Drama Centre Theatre from 2-18 May 2014.
By the way, this play is rated R16 for ‘coarse langauge’ and sexual jokes. Can you imagine there were young children in the audience that night I attended? What was the parents thinking? Speaking of which, I didn’t know Singaporeans speak in such coarse language in real life. (F-prefix verbs.) I am so naive.