By TEATER EKAMATRA (Singapore)
(part of ‘the studios’, Esplanade 10th Anniversary)
ESPLANADE THEATRE STUDIO
6 July 2012 (Friday), 8pm
(1 hr 15 mins, with no intermission)
I entered the theatre studio almost on the dot before the show had begun, and was greeted by an intense atmosphere, sounded like a helicopter just about to land on us anytime.
I was wondering how long had this sound been started, and wondering how long could anyone bear, being present in this kind of room without feeling uneasy or waiting in anxiety.
Not without any warnings, this show had already openly telling you that it was not going to be a play that you will be peacefully sitting through without feeling, at least – Uncomfortable!
At one glance at the stage, is a miniature of any household but painted with gloomy colours, showing a bedroom and kitchen side by side: an open wardrobe, mattress on the floor as the bed with pillows and bolsters, a dining table and chairs, a kitchen cabinet with a blender on it, a refrigerator, a washing machine with a laundry basket beside it, a vacuum cleaner with a tail of long wire plug just casually placed around…but what that could not take my eyes off was the clock hanging slightly at the centre, showing 4:55pm (not the exact time) – I was curious if it was a real clock or not.
Just then, the ‘helicopter’ sound becoming more intense, the light had at once changed its tone, with the blender suddenly started to spin within impatiently with a constant loud noise. And then, it stopped, silent followed for a while but already leaving my heart stirred up at the beginning with the anticipation that the progress of this performance will sure bring me some emotional high and low later on.
True enough, as I predicted. When the two characters came in, they were like two strangers living under the same roof. Husband was longing to be in touch with his wife, but his wife was very cold towards him. Both seemed knowing each other very well, but yet so distant. What happened before that, you may ask. For us to find out later on, I suppose.
Very soon after, we found out how they met, how they fell in love, how they explored each other physically and emotionally, how they fought ferociously, how they made sacrifices for their first baby, how they struggled in denial of their baby’s death, how they hate each other later on for destroying each other’s lives, how they had entangled in the norms, how they pleaded to set free but had long lost their ways….
Not only the two pedestrian expressed themselves in words, they also portrayed their internal most feelings through movements, sometimes in an artistic way that you can admire it like a painting, but sometimes in a ‘beast’ form, climbing and crawling around high and low, which reminded me if human beings when reduced ourselves, will act like animals too, if we were irrational.
I like how the lighting and sound effects were being used to create the desirable moods for the audience, especially the scenes when the smoke flowing from the open refrigerator, slowly filled up the stage, while the two performers paused for a moment, frozen as their relationship was, and also gave us some time to ponder upon what were missing in their lives, and maybe ours too.
I believe what the characters had been through we all could identify one or two at least, no matter we are single or married. It was not this play’s intention to give you any solution, but giving you much rooms to interpret on your own. Who can give you any definite answer in life, but back to this year – the second season of ‘The Studios’ theme – in search of the truth; you have to find it yourself!
‘Bleeding Grace’ was an experimental kind of performance with surprises, like a person who loves adventure, I was open to follow it with an open heart and mind, freely, it had brought me through, allowed me to immerse quite well in entering the world of another person while intertwining with mine. It was any ordinary story in term of relationship that might belong to you or the people around you.
But experimental kind of performance has its flaws too, as sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and most critically also depends on the acceptance of the audience members, because arts is very subjective. I find certain scenes or certain actions in this play didn’t seem to go smoothly with the story or flow of emotions from the characters sometimes, and while some movements had casted an impact on me, but some parts seemed slightly awkward.
It was not because of the lack of abilities to act well, because the two performers, Helmi Fita and Eleanor Tan are great artists with marvellous chemistry when put together.
This was the second play which I watched by Playwright, Zizi Azah, so I was not able to comment much, the first one was last year, “The Gunpowder Trail”, which I would prefer as comparison, maybe of the stronger foundation based on short story by our local writer, Claire Tham.
Well, as a whole, ‘Bleeding Grace’ had successfully provoking me in search for the real meaning of a fulfilling marriage and the importance of a good communication. It had linked with its theme, with what it meant to be in search for the path of the truth, the wisdom in finding yourself first, before the other person can find the real you, and with both knowing clearly each other’s goals and purposes in lives, then able to collaborate a more fulfilling relationship.
There’s no perfect equation for any relationship or marriage, in order to keep it alive, we will have to forever working and in searching for that key.
And there’s no perfect performance that suits the taste for all audiences.
Maybe it’s that imperfection that makes its perfect for one.
Actually, perfection can be subjective.
P.S: By the way, when the show ended, the clock on the stage showed 6:10pm.