When the Experimental Theatre Company in Singapore held their highly anticipated
performance of 'Medea' at the West Coast Park, it was an event that took
Singapore by storm as it was a hitherto untried venue for a serious play. My
friends and I were avid theatre goers and
decided to attend it even though the ticket was rather costly.
We turned up
for the event at about six in the evening and were shocked at the vast number of
people who had already gathered. As it was to be a performance that capitalized
on natural changing light, the evening was the best time to stage the play. We
had to pick our way carefully through the crowd of people who had come fully
armed with picnic mats, baskets of food and even binoculars. It was a crowd who
had come prepared to enjoy themselves. Energised by such enthusiasm, we settled
down quickly under a tree.
The opening of the play was spectacular. Using the colorful palette of the
setting sun in the distance, the play opened with a dance sequence that was
breathtaking. We were so engrossed in the dance that when the actors and
actresses streamed in from around us, we were visibly stunned. Never before had
we experienced actors and actresses moving around the audience instead of being
on a clearly-defined stage. But it was a novel experience as the intensity of
the drama was driven home for the audience.
But a hilarious interruption to the unfolding drama took place when an errant
child tottered forward to one of the actresses and insisted on being carried.
When the professional actress ignored the child, the latter started bawling
loudly, earning some titters from the audience. When the child still refused to
move away, one of the actors finally picked the child up and deposited him
safely out of their way. It was really funny watching the actor trying to quell
the petulant child.
But the play got back on track as we watched the tragedy of Medea powerfully
enacted by an actress. Torches strategically placed now lighted the set and the
entire spectacle of shadows and blazing light was stunning. Safe for the earlier
interruption, the play progressed at a pace that was invigorating and yet
heart-rending. We were enthralled by it.
When the play finally ended, we all rose as one body to give it a standing
ovation. The actors and actresses took their bows and the audience started to
pack up. We were so exhilarated by the power of the play that we decided to go
for supper to discuss it. It was certainly a wonderful experience.