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  M1SFF09: FROZEN ANGELS [Reviews]
« on: January 12, 2009, 11:56:39 PM » by alvintck

Frozen Angels: Skillfully Sculpted
review By  Sentire 08 Jan  47 views
tags:  theatre  The Necessary Stage  singapore  drama  Haresh Sharma

Frozen Angels borrows the scientific possibility of sustaining life as the backdrop against which the characters in its multiple storylines have to work through the problems of extended life and the ultimate inability to win over death.
Written by Haresh Sharma and directed by Alvin Tan, the piece opens by introducing the audience to why people might want to extend life, or how it might be sustained.
While the concept of a play that examines the impact of life-extending technology on people may seem dry, Frozen Angels is anything but sleep-inducing. Through its storylines that follow a couple that once wanted to be together forever, a father whose daughter pays other women to care for him, and a woman who sells life-extending drugs but cannot save her mother, the audience’s attention is held not only by the sobering challenges but also by skillful snippets of genuine expression. For instance, the audience is roused to laughter by the desire of the young man to “chope” his girlfriend who is still in junior college and the daring of flirtatious Gina the lab technician.
The two-person cast comprised of Siti Khalijah and Najib Soiman is surprisingly versatile in its ability to portray varied characters. Siti Khalijah is impressive in the opening scene, portraying genuine emotion with watery eyes but without melodrama to bring across the fear that death will happen to our loved ones when we are not around.
Frozen Angels is also notable for its multimedia element which it uses to great effect and to its benefit. As the audience is seated, it is treated to images of the hairs surrounding the eye, suggesting a close examination of ourselves even as we look closely at the eye. Of course, the multimedia element also serves a functional purpose throughout the play, creating scene changes and intervening time periods during which the actors can complete quick costume changes to produce a smooth performance. What is impressive about the use of multimedia is that it goes beyond functionality. The videos do not only complement the play, but are an actual integral part of Frozen Angels. Another strength of the multimedia used in this play is that it does not cross the line to become excessively abstract and self-absorbed.
Clocking in at just an hour, Frozen Angels provides a good evening for even the new theatergoer who just wants to see a good story on stage. What better choice than a play that shows you not just one, but three stories that will grab gently at your heartstrings?
Frozen Angels runs from now till Sunday, 10th January, at the National Museum of Singapore.

About Sentire
Sentire is in love with the arts as a means of exploring humanity and meaning in life. Although she studied the sciences, her heart has always also been with the arts, especially acting and writing.



review | theatre

The Necessary Stage
National Museum Gallery Theatre

adeline chia

Frozen Angels was originally presented at the National University of Singapore's arts festival last year to warm reviews, and it was a pleasure revisiting it for the opening of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival.

Playwright Haresh Sharma has created alien and futuristic worlds that come with distinctly recognisable human characters. Audiences are filled with sympathy for these people, who, for all the technological advances, seem to have familiar weaknesses, desires and loves, such as the sadness of blowing out the candle on your 200th birthday cake.

This is coupled with beautiful and evocative pre-recorded footage and live video elements by film-maker Loo Zihan which, besides filling in the backstory, sets the play's elegaic mood through unfocussed cityscapes, close-ups of skin and hair, and old photographs.

There is a tendency towards the mawkish in some scenes, but emotions seldom over-ran in this concise and multi-layered one-hour production helmed by director Alvin Tan.

In one story, immortality is achieved with a few injections for a pair of junior college sweethearts who stay together for 200 years.

In another, a catty Chinese woman working at a research facility trades stem cells and sexual favours with a Bangladeshi worker, who in turns peddles the rejuvenative stem cells.

Finally, Sharma stretches the idea of cloning familial roles in the last story about a Malay man taken care of by a Filipino maid. When she dies, her daughter takes over her care-giving role.

A new casting consisting of Siti Khalijah and Najib Soiman lent the two-hander sensitivity and carried the show through its various moods. They were a joy to watch: courting mawkishly over MSN chat as a pari of young puppyish lovers and chiding each other affectionately as father and daughter.

Acting honours especially go to Siti. She switched accents and roles from foul-mouthed Ah Lian to a resigned 200-year-old, ready to throw in the towel. My only complaint is an ill-judged video segment featuring actress Goh Guat Kian as a dead mother, dressed in a wedding gown, addressing her daughter. With the backdrop of her funeral at a void deck and the music soaring, everything got too wet and soppy.

Thankfully, these moments were few. This is sci-fi with a beating human heart: It travels to the future and turns the mirror back at us.

book it:


Where: National Museum Gallery Theatre
When: Today, 3pm and 8pm
Tomorrow, 3pm
Admission: $27/$19 from Sistic (www.sistic.com.sg or call 6348-5555)

Photo Caption: Siti Khalijah (left) and Najib Soiman played all the roles.

Review: Frozen Angels by The Necessary Stage
By J. Raven Yep

January 10, 2009, 2:49 am
Filed under: Commentaries, Theatre | Tags: alvin tan, art & the family, artzine singapore, artzinesg, haresh sharma, j.raven yep, Najib Soiman, Review of Frozen Angels by The Necessary Stage, Siti Khalijah, theatre review

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

Share with us your views on Art & The Family.

This review is part of ArtZine’s Special Coverage of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival. Read our reviews

Kenneth Kwok's Notes

Theatre Review: "Frozen Angels" by The Necessary Stage
In "Frozen Angels", immortality is a result of advancements in the medical field – there is talk of stem cell research and injections which can extend human life beyond two hundred years. However, the play's interest in science and technology is minimal. Playwright Haresh Sharma and director Alvin Tan are more interested in showing how the theme of the play affects individuals: how it makes them confront very human feelings that may otherwise have remain hidden, and how these feelings drive them to certain decisions.

The most fully realized of the three main story arcs is that of a couple who marry young and stay alive for centuries through artificial means ("all our friends have already died," says the wife, spiritlessly) because the husband does not ever want to be separated from her and does not know what would happen after death. His is a natural fear (though taken to the extreme) that is only too easy to empathise with and it evokes powerful questions about the nature of loneliness and human companionship, what it means to really love someone and whether love should be measured by time. Unfortunately, the other two threads, though striking similar emotional beats, prove less effective. I could not give myself completely to the stories and the characters because I was distracted by a lack of clarity sometimes in what exactly was going on and why.

I have no complaints about actors Siti Khalijah and Muhd Najib Soiman though, the former again proving why she was my Special Mention for 2008. Loo Zhihan's multimedia also deserves much praise, especially in how it intersected with the action onstage in often surprising ways. The technology has always been there but I have not ever seen the possibilities of it being optimized as they are here and in a way that feels so organic to the work as part of a whole.

"Frozen Angels" is not the best Necessary Stage work of late - but even TNS' second best is well above average for other companies. ***1/2 out of 5 stars.

Frozen Angels
The Necessary Stage
7 - 10 Jan: 8pm. 3pm matinees on 10, 11 Jan.
Gallery Theatre, National Museum

* image.jpg (65.27 KB, 400x543 - viewed 362 times.)

« Last Edit: January 13, 2009, 03:07:08 AM by alvintck »

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