Show: First Family
Date: 7th July 2006
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre
Director/Playwright/Set Designer: Chong Tze Chien
Lighting Designer: Lim Woan Wen
Sound Designer: Darren Ng
Costume Designer: Lim Chin Huat
Crew: Goh Guat Kian, Low Kah Wei, Jean Ng, Karen Tan, Ong Kian Sin, Claire Devine, Oliver Chong, Ang Hui Bin, Julius Foo, Tan Beng Tian
It was a show about loyalty and betrayal, about putting country before family, about a family who was once the apple of the country’s eye but suddenly finds themselves embroiled in a dark conspiracy to destroy them and all that they’ve ever believed in.
The idea is fantastic but the execution was, sadly, not on par. It’s just like 2 perfect parents, conceiving a perfect baby but somehow during the 9-month pregnancy & the birth, something went wrong and the baby turned out not-so-perfect. It could have been the blockbuster of the theatre scene in 2006.
I couldn’t really put my finger down to the exact thing that went wrong. The nagging feeling is that this show might just be The Finger Players’ worst show to date, after its new direction. The direction was rather loose and there were too many unnecessary breaks and repetitions, trying to show that the “little one” was the more loved and most pampered one in the family. The game of ‘Eagle and the Chick’ was way too long and scenes like this really brings the whole tone of the play down and every time such a dip happens, it takes them double the effort to bring the play back to its original pace & energy level.
Sound was somewhat off the night I watched. I tend to give Darren quite a lot of grace. He works hard and he’s 5 men in 1, tackling 10,000 machines at the same time. However, one has to let go when one can. Handling the job of 5 men by oneself will not make a show better. It might just crash it. Time is the only factor.
Speaking of which, one personal qualm I have with Finger Players’ so far is that they have been using the same designers for the longest time. Woan Wen & Darren are great in their own capacities but as a theatre company, TFP needs to be working with new people and getting freshness in their shows. For someone like me who has watched almost all their main season productions, it’s slowly becoming the same. I can walk into a TFP show and feel that this show’s lights & sound is not very much different from the previous one. It’s the same reverb, the same style of wash and the entire feel of the whole show is nothing very new.
It may seem that I didn’t like the show at all but alas, the truth couldn’t be further. I have high expectations and First Family didn’t march up that’s all. It was still enjoyable and there were funny moments like how the Prince’s kungfu master ended up being a regular of the bordello that the Mother used to work, so she learned all his skills. As usual, the shadow puppets were amazing, best of which was the perfect scenery of the country. The market, temple all came to life when the prince alluded to them. The sea practically swept me away.
All in all, First Family, though a overly lengthy 2 hours, was still a good way to spent a lazy Friday night!