Friday, June 04, 2004

Just a dream
a noble dream
Just a hope gone up in smoke
I hear that sound, that simple sound
It gives me hope
only to fall back to the ground
Chan, M. Opiume. 2004

Got complimentary tix to the above performance. Jumped at the chance 'cos I doubt I'll get another ticket to another Arts Fest event this year. Mary scored the tix for us and since she couldn't get hold of Jen Lim, Adrian came in her stead. As typical of Adrian, he was making his way towards Jubilee Hall when Mary called him this evening and redirected him to Victoria Theatre to meet us. Tell Adrian to meet at Far East plaza and he'll wait at Lucky Plaza for us.

The fact that Opiume is performed by a theatre company leads one to assume that the production is a theatrical-type show. It's a common misconception and we now stand corrected. Instead, it is a beautiful classical musical performance with theatrical production values thrown in to enhance its marketability. C Wong was a compelling storyteller, melancholically delivering her tale of the drug-related death of a friend as the framework of the main story. The main story was, hmm..., apparently set during the period of China's Opium War; and there isn't much to say about what went on because the setting of the story supersceded the story itself.

The performers had beautiful voices to go with the music, but there was little interaction between their characters and hardly any discernable motivation behind their movement. Walk here. Sing. Walk there. Sing. Cross paths. Sing. Sit down. Sing. Stand up. Sing. Die. erm... Yes, there was that problem of having a dead body onstage that could not be gotten rid of apart from a miraculous resurrection which did happen. Hee Hee.

As a theatrical production, it lacked pacing and high points and low points to sustain interest. It wasn't until I realized that it was the music that was the most important element that's when I began to enjoy it. When I decided to ignore the backdrop, the movement and the attempt to appreciate the lyrics I discovered a treat for the auditory sense, credit being to the T'ang Quartet. Too bad T'ang was placed as part of the background when the guys should have been fronting the production. Everything I was looking for, movement, mood, tone, pacing was in the music and it stayed there.

As with the above excerpt, Opiume is a noble dream in the fusion of the different elements of music and drama. Sadly, the balance heavily favoured the former over the latter, hence the dream went up in smoke. There were one or two occasions when the audience thought the production had ended but the hope fell back to the ground when the music picked up again and the performers launched into another song. If you're going for this production, be warned: go enjoy the music, ignore everything else -- it's just fancy packaging 'sall.

After the performance, Mary brought us to the cafe at her workplace and we split a seafood pizza (I covered my slices with Tabasco sauce like in the ad) and destroyed a peach pie with honey ice cream, and a mud pie amongst the four of us. Good way to round up the evening!

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