HONEST TO THE bone, hilarious and painfully realistic, the double-billed production Traffic Jam had me empathizing, smiling and ultimately hooked for two hours. Seated in the audience with me were children as young as eight and seniors with a lifetime of experience behind them. Yet, I heard mutters of agreement and robust laughter from all sides.
Traffic Jam told a tale (two actually) that almost everyone in the audience could understand and relate to.
The first play entitled No Leeway was written by Nicholas Tan, who spun a heart-tugging story about a family who has fallen through the cracks of Singapore’s affluent middle-class and how they managed to stay together despite life throwing them curveball after curveball. The cast managed to put on a stellar performance as directed by Claire Devine, a novice in Singapore’s theatre scene.
However, the glue that held the play together was the underrated performance of Aunty Soh as played Sim Xin Feng. Her honest and accurate portrayal of a typical kiasu ah
soh (definition here) in her 50s had the audience giggling to themselves every time she entered a scene.
I particularly enjoyed the secondary layer to this kiasu ah soh character, who is according to stereotypes, a self-serving and greedy lady in her later years. Yet the Aunty Soh in the play was one who cared enough about her neighbors to babysit their 8-year-old little sister, tidy up their home and persuade her husband to pose as their father; all completely out of free-will. Makes us re-evaluate our judgment of these ah sohs, doesn’t it?
After a brief intermission, the second play entitled Post-Traffic Barrier that was written by Lu Huiyi took the stage.
Anyone who has gone through puberty can easily relate to this play. I’m serious.
The transition of the play was seamless under the direction of Stanley Seah, who is a recent graduate from NAFA’s Diploma in Theatre course, and the standout of the night was undoubtedly the performance of Al Hafiz Sanusi who played the lead role of Y, portraying the various obstacles and barriers he faced as he grew up.
Y was a lovable character that the audience cannot help liking despite his overt competitiveness and desperate need for approval. However, it reminds us not to be fooled by the bubbly exterior of others because for all you know, a bloodbath of sorts might be taking place inside.
The highlight of the play for me, was the intense conflict between characters X and Y as they fiercely debated the art of wearing one’s heart on one’s sleeve and if it were or were not, an act of a phoney.
Deserving of a special mention is Wendy Mack, who masterfully designed a very effective abstract stage setting which is, believe it or not, a hell lot more difficult than designing a realistic set IMHO (in my honest opinion).
All photos are supplied by Buds Theatre and taken by Siti Nur Syahadah.