Pulau Ujong: Island at the End

by Alfian Sa'at
Wild Rice
Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre, Singapore

Considering this piece of documentary theatre about climate change in Singapore was written by Alfian Sa'at and directed by Edith Podesta, I must confess I was expecting something quite angry and possibly avant garde. Instead, what we have is not an impassioned diatribe but a gentle awakening, a play that seeks to educate us about our place in this delicate ecosystem and how every action has its consequences.

We are treated to a plethora of anthromorphosized plants and animals who provide their views on the subject - ranging from banyan trees to polar bears - because why should only humans be part of the narrative? At one point, the Northeast Monsoon floats around like Shakespeare's witches, carrying cauldrons of water.

It's a pity the human voices featured, mostly middle class academics and activists, do not have the same diversity and strike fairly similar notes. Ultimately though, the message is clear - we need to realise that we are all in this together and start reconnecting with the environment. This tactile communion with nature is beautifully conveyed in the symbolic staging that features the five actors wade around a shallow pond surrounding an island, both contained and nourished by the omnipresence of water.

Photo Credit: Wild Rice

Pulau Ujong, which is incidentally another name for Singapore, is a play that is equally thoughtful and sobering, one that makes us walk away with new perspectives. It can come across a little academic and would have made for a fascinating museum exhibition or lecture but the theatrical elements make this far more emotive. Something well worth watching.

The Crystalwords score: 3/5 

*For other documentary/verbatim theatre plays by Alfian Sa'at, check out my reviews of Cooling Off Day and Cook a Pot of Curry.


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