Never The Bride

by Rajkumar Thiagaras 
The Necessary Stage
M1 Singapore Fringe Festival 2023
(organised and curated by TNS)
Esplanade Annexe Studio, Singapore

Section 377A, the law criminalising consensual sex between men in Singapore, has finally been repealed. What's next? Well, the title of this production, written by Rajkumar Thiagaras and presented by The Necessary Stage as part of the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival, should give you an idea. Three gay men muse about the possibility of marriage in a country that accepts them, but only within the strictest of limits. 

Alvin Tan directs a delicious, campy romp that queers everything from Shakespeare to pop culture with joyous abandon. The three performers (one Malay, one Chinese and one Indian) first appear as Pondan Sisters in rainbow headbands and the narrative segues into vignettes that are by turns sobering and hilarious. A gay hen party is abruptly halted by the menacing presence of a law enforcement officer. Two lovers share a clandestine moment before one them gets married. A Malay groom cannot shut out the voices of religious elders at his gay wedding. 

Snappy and multimedia-saturated, Never The Bride is reminiscent of TNS's takes on hot button issues of colonialism and climate change and is carried by its passionate cast and co-creators. It can be messy and meandering but it gets its point across, articulating the complexity of gay identity in Singapore with aplomb. One legal obstacle may be out of the way, but there are still so many others imposed by society, culture and religion that continue to cast their shadows. Will these wannabe brides ever be married and live happily ever after? I sure hope so. 

The Crystalwords score: 3/5


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