NYeDC's Drama Night 06 was a generally tight script. Mel primarily wrote "Five Foot Way" as our SYF piece this year, meaning it was actually meant for about a half hour run. Drama Night usually runs a full hour, though, so tonight's script was an extended version, so to speak.
Set along a row of shophouses sometime in the 1960s, it focused on the friendship between 2 boys, 1 Malay and 1 Chinese, during the time of ethnic violence in our history. Despite the focus, the play was still mainly ensemble driven with everyone making the street come alive: Mrs Ang's kopi tiam all hustle and bustle, Sanjeev's bookstore and Cik Zu's mee rebus stall calm and easygoing.
I like the script for its local flavour, colloquialisms and all. Despite the heavy handed censorship from the SYF organizers the dialogue was still essentially recognizable street talk.
The cast was engaging, each character portrayed quite strongly, though certain stereotypes were hard to avoid. Fran, who played the beng went a little ott, looking for laughs that dulled his menacing quality a touch. 'deep played Sanjeev too conservatively, as did Zu; there were times the mike couldn't pick up their voices audibly enough. 'tilda's Geok is the most lighthearted character so she might have concentrated more on her innocence and fun-loving nature and less on being 8 years old.
Dory played Mrs Ang with lots of spit and bile, and it was nice that there was some attempt to explain her bigotted attitude, though it was just a throwaway line that the audience might have easily missed.
Des and 'mir work well together, both balancing each other nicely. Des' morose straight-man and 'mir's happy-go-lucky wiseass have the potential to be a great comedy couple, if they want to explore the pairing further.
Still, being an extended script, there were occasions when the dialogue got flabby and uncertain. Too many last minute changes that don't get rehearsed adequately will do that. The fight sequences were still rushed and the ending scene was strange because 2 characters are talking about a third character as if she wasn't there, and yet she is obviously sitting there in their plain view.
With the stage set and costumes and lighting and more rehearsals, tonight's production was a great improvement from when I previewed it last week. Some tweaks are going to be necessary to get it ready for the SYF, but not too many.