People, Places and Things

by Duncan Macmillan
Singtel Waterfront Theatre, Singapore

People, places and things. For those grappling with addiction, these are the triggers one is told to avoid in order to prevent relapse. And for Emma, an actress who checks herself into rehab after one too many alcohol-and-drug-fuelled nights, they prove particularly hard to escape. After all, can a person who pretends to be someone else for a living ever be true to herself? 

Pangdemonium's opening production of 2023 is a searing look at addiction and the torturous path to recovery. It's carried by a magnetic Sharda Harrison who invests herself fully into the role of the troubled Emma, tottering around with a manic, unstoppable energy as she grapples to make sense of her situation. The production is bolstered by a strong ensemble, sensitive direction by Tracie Pang and subtle, clever design by Philip Engleheart, incorporating multimedia and visual effects to powerfully capture the addled state of mind of an addict. 

This is however not a story that needs to be three hours long. Considering the economy of Macmillan's other plays like Lungs or Every Brilliant Thing, there are scenes that feel gratuitous and protracted. One wishes some edits had been made to move the narrative along. The accent work also proves rather jarring; my view is that if you can't do it, don't force it. 

Nonetheless, a strong, solid production all round. Excited to see the SingTel Waterfront Theatre as the company's new home for the year and enjoyed the traverse staging.

The Crystalwords score: 3.5/5


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