give the public the public star
image by J
Sunday J and I caught the last performance for the 2nd run of W!ldrice's The Campaign to Confer the Public Star on JBJ. A simple 2 act structure with 2 actors, each playing multiple roles in 1 of the 2 acts - the first act on the unintentional public life of a private individual, the other on the private life of an unintentional public servant - both martyred, relunctantly or unwittingly, by their own play in the system.
Described as a satire, the humour is biting, intelligent and knowing, yet also accessible, owing to Pam Oei's dynamo-like costume changes and everyone's favourite digs at the dynastic Lees/politicians/complicit civil service. In this way, the play's also a romance. A romance about that other JBJ, the hapless Singaporean, the undead Lee, the absent father, heck, the system, the clueless public, the clued-in repressed media...
Still, it was an enjoyable, well-conceived play with the wordless ending (finally, quiet in a hyper-wordy play!) so aptly capturing the sense of 無奈 (what will the equivalent of this be? frustration?) amidst images of fireworks.
For all the global posturing, what has proven to work - 881 as a good example - is defining a vernacular, a folk theatre. Even if it is a vernacular where the senior civil servant character (unless I heard wrong) in a post-coital tiff with her journalist boyfriend, exclaims - "Tis not enough?" And on an island where English is an adopted "first" language, a Shakespearean "tis" is part of our vernacular, however stilted.