Singapore Fringe Festival 2019
“In his desperation to save his dying daughter, Abhijeet is lured to the magical paradise of Singaland! Jeet toils under the scorching sun to earn gold coins that he can then send to his beloved child and cure her sickness. However, an unfortunate incident leaves him injured, unable to work. Desperate and alone, Jeet stumbles upon another vagabond, Gloria, who too is in need of help. She tells him of a mythical dragon native to the land, that is said to grant your every wish…”
Photo credit: Andre Chong and Lee Lip Jiang
Patch and Punnet is a new company working collaboratively to create “fresh and fun devised work made from the soul. By millennials for millennials”. The cast of nine play multiple roles – and they sing, dance and act. We first meet Abhijeet and his young daughter in a sweet, endearing scene, it turns out his daughter needs a special cure. Next, Abhijeet, a manual labourer, hurts his leg and is told that he can not work, so he is in danger of losing his livelihood. There is one more element to this story – Abhijeet is a foreign worker, an immigrant, which has its own set of issues.
Social justice concerns are everywhere, and this devised play is based on social research done by the cast members themselves. Examples woven into the story are told through narration, characterization, physical storytelling and are realistic and hurtful or effectively spun with metaphor.
A mystical person in a black cloak arrives and offers to help Abhijeet find a cure for his daughter – and then the entire ensemble breaks out into an upbeat song with tightly choreographed dance and movement. We are transported to the fantasy Singaland, where everyone wears shades of fuschia pink!
Patch and Punnet’s theatre style is fresh and entertaining – looking around the audience everyone was smiling! This kind of theatre puts you in a good mood and ready to be drawn into this original thoughtful story. Jeet, as he is called for short, is the most humble and positive person, evidenced by how he reacts to both good and bad. He accepts kindnesses with humble joy and insults in a similar way, for he appreciates anything, because his lot in life as an immigrant is the lowliest of the low. The earnest and sympathetic way that Jeet reacts is based on reality, and is often sad and heart wrenching. He has to deal with typical immigrant issues such as obtaining work papers, health benefits, lack of rights and meets a rainbow of characters on his adventures, which are as sweet as they are sour.
The snappy script and sharp acting by the compelling cast in this zany edgy world are complemented by outstanding sound design. Simple costume pieces are added to quick voice changes and denote different characters very effectively. In addition, locations in the story are created using a simple and very attractive set, including large, backdrop panels of beautiful images, an ornately painted chair and a fascinating staircase contraption!
Featured characters in the show are the enthusiastic narrator (Krish Natarajan), a deity with attitude (Nisa Syarafana), an empathetic strong purple person (Sharmaine Goh), a personable but wonderfully strange creature (Astley Xie) and naive endearing Abhijeet (Jit Dastidar) with Allison Bickman, Lynn Chia, Zulfiqar Izzudin, Andrew Marko. This is a wonderful debut for this show. While some scenes and performances can benefit from attention to detail, there is room for the story to be extended and deepened.
This is a creative and imaginative modern cautionary tale – our hero is Abijheet and he takes his valiant journey in front of us. Through the use of attitude and humour in the story, the aim is to find solutions for conflicts without aggression but with fairness and basic rights for all. This is theatre for everyone that entertains, enlightens, touches the heart and tickles the funny bone!