The Fall

by James Fritz
Singapore Repertory Theatre: The Young Company
KC Arts Centre, Singapore

The latest batch of SRT's The Young Company, a two-year acting programme for 16-25 year olds led by veteran performer Daniel Jenkins, culminate their theatrical experience with James Fritz's The Fall as their graduation showcase.

Comprising three loosely connected scenes, the play was performed to some acclaim by the UK's National Youth Theatre in 2016 and has been billed as a powerful, timely reminder about ageing and inter-generational differences.

There are some clear standouts in the cast. Iris Li shines as a feisty high-school girl who displays a tender side when she encounters a dying old man. Nicholas Kyle Papaoanou commands our attention as an institutionalised octogenarian who embarks on a relationship with a fellow inmate and finally contemplates whether he should undergo voluntary euthanasia.

Bearing in mind Singapore's greying populace, one would think this sort of play is timely and impactful. Unfortunately, Fritz's script just doesn't seem to have enough going for it to present a nuanced portrait of life in one's silver years. It maintains a stubborn binary between the young and old and there's hardly any emotional agency given to the elderly characters until the very end.

Jenkins' direction is decent but awkward at times. While he's alive to comedy and pacing, the scenes feel rather unbalanced. In the middle scene, lines are confusingly spliced across four couples in bid to presumably give more actors stage time. The relatively full (if amateur) set in the first scene provides a bizarre contrast to the spartan second and third scenes and one feels that a basic set-up throughout would have been more consistent.

Considering the strong work we've been seeing from young theatre-makers through platforms such as The Orange Playground by The Necessary Stage, young & W!LD by W!LD RICE and The Platform Series by GenerAsia, this latest outing by the The Young Company makes for a rather disappointing evening which could do with more polish. Nonetheless, one looks forward to seeing more of these young actors as they continue on their creative journeys. 

The Crystalwords score: 2.5/5

*For a fuller discussion of this production, check out my podcast for Arts Equator with theatre educator and fellow arts reviewer Matthew Lyon here.


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