Today, I watched Boom by Sight Line Productions with the Players. I’m resisting the urge to tear through reviews by other people because I want to figure out what I thought about their production first. So this is going to be excruciating for me to write as I’m super sleepy and I’m also incredibly incoherent. Also, I want to blog about USP camp but I need to write this first before I forget everything I want to say and fall into a puddle of unconsciousness.
It was quite surreal watching Boom. I was trying very hard not to mouth the lines along with the actors and it was strange because everything felt so familiar yet the way they did some lines and some scenes were so different, it was just foreign. It felt almost bitter-sweet watching. Yet, at the same time, as I surmised when they started: “GUYS. WE ARE FINALLY WATCHING BOOM.”
What I liked about their Boom was firstly, THEIR JEREMIAH. He was evidently one of the strongest actors in the show, and his facial expressions were hilarious. I loved how he portrayed Jeremiah, with the right mix of awkward and formal and nonsense. And I liked the way they tried to take his monologue. In our Boom, it was more sad and angsty, but in this Boom, it was more of him musing to himself, which I thought was quite interesting; yet, although I liked the way they interpreted it, I don’t think execution was all that smooth. My favourite bit was Jeremiah’s face during the pen-clicking bit, just because it was so kao pei and I’m just into being annoying.
I also liked the dynamic between Mother and Boon. (Haha I actually have no idea what any of the characters are called, apart from Jeremiah, just because I don’t need to say any names in Boom except for his. SO AWKS RIGHT? XD) It was quite cute and I liked how the Mother was portrayed as well. It was quite odd watching them at first because I’m just too used to seeing Ziyad and Chhabs do it so it was like WHAT WHY ARE THESE CHARACTERS CHINESE? Then I realize that they were meant to be Chinese in the first place.
What was really interesting about Boom was the set. Which I loved at first, especially because of the way they opened (with the agents rolled out on a platform that opened in the middle of the set). It was this giant tomb-stone, with metallic sheet covering the front such that you could see through the walls when it was lit properly, and there were panels that opened up for exits and entrances. The metallic-futuristic sheet was quite cool since it was supposed to be an old-fashioned tombstone. There was also a second-storey, which was where the Director’s office was, and where the Corpse resided.
At first glance, the set was this amazing piece of awesomeball. But I didn’t like the scenes set in the Director’s Office because it was so difficult to watch the actors. The guy playing Jeremiah had less problems, since he’s quite a strong actor. But the guy playing the Director (I WAS VERY EXCITED THAT MY ROLE WAS SPLIT BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE BTW) struggled at first, and it was just a bit difficult to watch. Plus their voices were really muffled and hard to hear. Also, it was quite distracting to see stuff wheeled out and put back, because I spent the first few moments of the scene trying to figure out how the set works instead of focusing on the actors.
(There are too many things I want to say, but I can’t really remember! So I’M JUST GOING TO SKIP AROUND LIKE A FOOL.)
OKAY SO, time to bitch about stuff I didn’t quite like.
I’m just going to start with Agent/Director just because they were parts that I played so I feel that I’m justified to be critical, having been in that position.
By the way, I was so amused by how they did Young Mother’s monologue. It was basically this recording which they added cool effects to, and they played it while having cool lights on. Which meant the actress didn’t have to go on stage to do it. SO JEALOUS KTHX, the monologue was one of the most painful (but in hind-sight, one of the most thrilling) scenes for me to do.
And also, WHY YOUNG MOTHER’S DRESS SO NICE? I was so jealous of that as well!
Back to Agent: While I thought she did an okay job at the Agent, it wasn’t very solid. She kept fluctuating between posh English and Singlish, which I sort of understand, but it was done in a rather sloppy way such that I wasn’t sure what she was supposed to be. Like there’s being posh while selling the house, and being Singlish when talking to Boon, but she didn’t do a good job on differentiating the two so it was confusing for me. Also, her posture and the way she stood was kinda bad; she kept bending a knee, and that just kind of annoyed me for some reason.
Actually, about the Singlish/English thing, the other two (Four Role Man and Boon) sort of did that too, particularly in the first scene. But Boon quit after a while, and Male Agent hardly appears, and Male Colleague had a pretty definite speaking accent-thingy so that was okay.
The Director was a bit of a let-down. I think the main actress was sick today, so we got her under-study which was a dude, so that was pretty amusing. He took a while to warm up to the part and he was rather nervous. But I didn’t like how he was so weak; not that he was a weak character, I just expected him to be more bitchy and fierce. He was more like diva bitchy~, which I don’t think worked very well. So that was a disappointment because I was looking forward to seeing some huge-ass, unreasonable, crazy bitch for a Director. However, the guy warmed up as the play progressed, so it got better. It’s just that I didn’t like how they portrayed the Director.
Buuuuut, this wasn’t as big a disappointment as the Corpse was. They placed the Corpse up in the second-storey of the set so he was literally just standing still and delivering his lines while trapped behind the screen. I didn’t like this at all. I was so excited to see how they were going to portray the Corpse, and after Shien’s cool zombie thing, suffice to say the standard was set pretty high (YAH LAH I’M PRAISING HIM LAH), so it was rather anti-climatic to see the Corpse just standing there, doing nothing. The fact that he was so far away made the Jeremiah/Corpse scene rather stale at parts too. It wasn’t that the guy playing Jeremiah wasn’t good (he was SO AWESOME, as I mentioned above), but there were points where the energy fell flat because he couldn’t properly interact with the other actor. And by isolating the Corpse like that, it sort of took away the emotional connection the audience should have had with him. So his monologue(s) were pretty meh meh too, which sucks, because when I read the script, I feel like crying when I come to his last monologue.
Admittedly, I did cry when I watched it just now, but it was more because I missed Boom and I was reminded of rehearsals, than because of the way he delivered it.
About the set, I didn’t like how they didn’t have the tree in it. They incorporated the tree into the set by having casting the shadow of leaves onto the metallic sheet during intermission and before the show started and stuff, but it didn’t exactly work. Though, it would have been very difficult to put the tree somewhere in their set, I still think it’s kind of a central idea in Boom.
(EDIT: YES OKAY AND this sort of ruined the bit where Boon is chained to the tree since there is no tree… During our Boom, every time we watch that scene, Chhabs and I would wince back-stage because of how raw the anger is and how intense the scene is. But because of how their set worked, in this Boom, Young Father just sort of does this fake-struggle thing with Boon, behind the metallic sheets and it loses its impact. The crazed, disturbing horror of the scene is just neutralized because of how they presented it and I didn’t really like that.)
Also, it was sort of hard to sympathize with the Mother when she was reminiscing about her white walls and her homely HDB apartment, when all we could see was the metallic sheets and futuristic background thingies (which sort of provided a contrast between the past and the future, I suppose!). I think that’s the main difference between our Boom and theirs. We chose to center ours in a more nostalgic, sentimental setting; but their interpretation was in a more modern, almost-cold? setting, and that sort of changed the emotions that I felt while watching it. (As mentioned below! Haha I just snuck this in hence the not coherent flow XD)
What was interesting (not bad or good!) was the tone that Boom had this time around. There was a lot less shouting and angst, and more resigned talks and contemplative conversations. This was most noticeable in the Mother/Boon scenes, because in our Boom, Ziyad and Chhabs were yelling at each other for most of it, but in this, the actors weren’t that angsty. I sort of liked the less-angstyness but it felt too non-conflict at points. Especially in Act 2, after Boon presses Mother on why his dad didn’t come back, and the Mother goes: “Because I told him not to!” I didn’t like that scene because it sort of felt quite flat; there was so much tension right before that moment, but then the Mother delivered that in such a resigned and quiet and non-conflicty way, despite the emotional intensity of the lines, that everything just felt quite bland after that. Maybe I’m just too used to how we did Boom, but I felt that there was a lack of emotional intensity in some scenes, because I didn’t see any anger or struggle in the characters or between characters at some points.
This sort of affected how the audience took the different monologues too. During our Boom, I remember the audience sort of being very tense and cry-y for Chhab’s final monologue, despite the strange lines in it. But for this, we laughed more for it, and I was kinda about it because it sort of undermines the pain and sadness that the Mother must be feeling. Then again, maybe the director meant for it to be more light-hearted.
Oh! What I really loved for this Boom was also the sound design. It was amazing and it really helped to evoke images and set the scene and do all the emotion-y stuff. And it was miles better than what we had for sound, which was just Chia playing on the piano and sometimes using the wrong fake-instrument to.
I’m sort of running out of steam so I shall just finish this here! If I remember anything else, I’ll just add to this list. But all in all, I’m really glad that we caught Boom. It brought back so many memories of rehearsals and nonsense, and it’s just so interesting to see the different way they presented it. Like although the central ideas are still there, the way they executed things was different, and that was pretty awesome.
Honestly, I preferred our Boom but only because it was our Boom and I really wish that we could watch it! I thought that ours better connected with the audience, but maybe that’s due to the fact that we staged it in a more intimate setting and we had a smaller-sized audience.
Anyway, it was just so much fun to FINALLY watch Boom! And I really miss the crazyness of productions.
Edit: Okay, after reading other reviews, I realize that I’ve just been focusing too much on the negatives than the positives. I guess it’s just in my nature to remember the criticisms more than the praises, but I honestly enjoyed their interpretation of Boom, and it really is an amazing show. (: Heehee, awkward end ttm!