Saturday, November 30, 2013

From France with love

Didn't know what to expect from a performance celebrating French music by four male cast. The blurb promised "A musical revue about love and other accidents!", but it stymied the imagination as to how they would pull off the passion of French romance with no mademoiselle treading the boards with the monsieurs.

It turns out that French music embodies a lot of narrative; that each song (or chanson) is a theatrical piece in itself. Whether it's about a heartbreak, unrequited love, bawdy drunkenness, or an old man's longing for the glory days of yore, each song comes to life via stories retold in situational choreography mostly done in congruent cabaret style.

The focus is on four highly influential French singer-songwriters (male, of course) spanning between before WWII till the contemporary period. For the sake of the audience, most of the lyrics are English translations of the originals penned and sung by Gainsbourg, Brel, Trenet and Aznavour. In more or less chronological order, the cast introduced each artist briefly before presenting their most iconic songs.

The overall programme was a well-chosen melange of narrative themes, some heavy and regretful, others light and comedic, while a few others had hilariously lascivious overtones. Leong, Goh, Chan and Furnell look like the're having a ball telling these stories. The choreography is slick and their voices blend well together. Overall presentation: delightful.

Staging-wise, quick and simple costume changes facilitated some of the storytelling effectively. The lighting rig at SOTA Drama Theatre is to be envied. Such a variety of gobos create illusions of so many different surfaces and textures stories could be told upon. There were a couple of hiccups with sound at the performance I watched, but quickly resolved with minimal impact on the presentation.

"A French Kiss in Singapore" really is a lot of fun. An evening of song, dance, storytelling, and a brief history of French music by Sing'theatre turned out to be a lot more entertaining than I had initially expected. The Drama kids chose well for their enrichment outing this year.

AFKS runs at the SOTA Drama Theatre till 7 December 2013.

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