by Alfian Sa'at and Marcia Vanderstraaten
Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre, Singapore
What a joy to re-encounter this five-star, five-hour epic after eight years! I've already done a detailed review of the original staging as part of the SIFA 2015 but in a nutshell, Hotel tells the story of Singapore over the past century. Set in the same room of a grand hotel, each of the eleven scenes takes place in a different decade (spanning 1915 to 2015), features different characters and explores the many empires, languages, cultures and politics that have shaped the country.
Rich, nuanced and utterly joyous, it's performed in an astounding nine languages by a diverse and fantastic cast. This is one of the finest pieces of local writing I've seen and a true state-of-the-nation play. I wrote how I hoped the text would be published one day and my wish has now been granted - copies are available for sale at the theatre foyer!
It's wonderful to see this show in Wild Rice's very own Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre. The intimacy of the space really made the stories resonate deeply. I found the surtitles a lot easier to follow and was especially glad to be able to share this experience with my parents who survived their first theatre marathon! The play is performed in two parts (a standard ticket covers both) and can be watched either on consecutive weeknights or on a single day over the weekend. We watched both parts on Sunday and it was a truly wonderful way to end the week.
Hotel remains as powerful, probing and polished as it was when I caught it all those years ago, a play that makes one both laugh and cry and ultimately feel proud for being a part of this complex and variable place we call home. Very limited tickets available. Please do not miss this stellar staycation.
The Crystalwords score: 5/5