I caught Sisters: The Untold Story of the Sisters Islands by Jean Tay with Shien and Megan. So glad I did! I’m probably highly biased because Boom is love, but Jean Tay is one of my favourite Singaporean play-wrights. She always manages to articulate these strange emotions and fears, and trace these winding human relationships that everyone experiences; I just love how she writes.
The script was beautifully written in the way she weaved and connected two different narratives together; and there’s this moment of startling epiphany when you realise how they’re inter-connected, and it’s such Oh! moment. The dialogue is also peppered with colloquial Singlish phrases, conversations in Mandarin and dialect, and Melayu. And although I struggled to understand some parts (particularly those in Melayu), it added to the sincerity of the play in a certain sense.
The two actresses gave a commendable performance, as they switched quickly between a whole slew of characters. However, they struggled with their accents at the start of each scene, with the voice of the character from the previous scene bleeding over to the next; you’d get this weird mix of Malay-Chinese slang, which was rather jarring to listen to. At times, I wasn’t sure what nationality, nor age, they were trying to portray. Nevertheless, it didn’t detract from the strength of their performance. It was rather interesting the way they used cloth-puppets to tell the story of Lina/Mina, and it added to the whimsical feel of the play.
The ending left much to be desired though. The very last scene sort of ruined the emotions of the play for me, but apart from that, I really enjoyed it — nearly started tearing at certain parts. However, I can’t help but wonder if there’s anything more to the play than just the idea of sister-hood, family and sacrifice. Hopefully the script comes out in print-form, because I really want to look at it again; and also because, it looks like such a fun and challenging piece to perform.
All in all, I thought it was a rather solid performance, and it was pretty decently priced too (hurhur cheap student alert!). Yay, supporting the local arts scene.
One of the passing lines that struck me was that of a character saying: “What’s the point of remembering all these stories? And telling them again and again?” (Okay, that was a bad paraphrase of the sentence.) Telling these stories was a way of keeping the tale of the sisters alive, and of keeping their memories alive. The idea of memory has always been something that’s interested me in a way — maybe because of how bad my memory is, and how I tend to have very distorted memories of incidents. It is through the act of remembering and passing on these stories will we be able to preserve our heritage.
I thought this was pretty interesting in light of Megan’s question: “Are these stories even real? The islands exist?”