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.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Down by the riverside

A new long walk route to try: Punggol Waterway Park. NParks has done a terrific job of prettying up the Punggol River. Although it now looks manicured and well-maintained by an army of gardeners, it still retains its authentic swampy, all natural smell.

Such a long stretch of picturesque greenery to traipse along. My route took me from the main car park all the way to the Sunrise Bridge and back along the opposite bank.

Tasha will tell you that the mad not-Englishman was at it again. It's blazing hot today, and he didn't bring enough water. Fortunately, there are public toilets at both ends of the route for a top-up of fresh tap water and a vending machine for cold drinks (the one at the Sunrise Bridge end only accepts old coins, not new). 

Tasha can't resist taking a peek at the river from this end of the Sunrise Bridge. The name suggests that perhaps the best time to walk this route is early morning. Will keep that in mind next time.

Finally back at our starting point, taking a break before crossing the Adventure Bridge back to civilization.

Yes, Tasha deserves a good lunch after all that calorie incinerating exercise.

Me too.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Rain on our parade

Totally underestimated the circumference of Bedok Reservoir. That wouldn't have been a problem, necessarily, except for this torrential downpour... which the weather reports were warning about, but somebody evidently didn't listen. At this point, it's too late to turn back and run for the car. At the same time, it was one heck of a walk to complete the circuit in this crappy weather. In between breaks of, ahem, extreme humidity, we ran (ok, brisk walked) from cover to cover, making the 5km distance seem miserably interminable.

By 'we', I mean the dog and me. That's one wet and miserable dog taking shelter with me in the porch of a public toilet awaiting our first break in the weather. It got progressively worse from here on out. Mental note: DO trust the weather forecast next time you're planning an outdoor activity. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Coffee, cake and dog

In our quest for more dog-friendly eating establishments, Tasha and I visited PARK at Holland Village. While the staff are very friendly with dogs, perhaps the place still isn't all that well-known to the dog owning public. No other canine friends were around for Tasha to socialize with. Anyway, there is only one table reserved indoors for diners with dog. Dogs and owners are free to sit at any of the outdoor tables. PARK is still working on a menu for pets, but for the moment, it's food for humans only.

My craving was initially for cake and coffee, but this appetizer of a portobello mushroom topped with a mound of crabmeat, Parmesan and alfalfa was too tempting to pass over.

An iced latte was refreshing in the warm, humid afternoon.

This wasn't the cake I had in mind, either; but I'm a sucker for banana pancakes. If it's on the menu, I have to try it. I like the thick stack of pancakes sandwiching slices of slightly scorched bananas, but I could have done without the caramelizing on the topmost banana slices: too sweet for my teeth. The a la mode vanilla ice cream was a nice counter as it had the full flavour of vanilla (including the little black dots of real vanilla) without being too sweet.

 And, of course, the dog who is happy to be out and about in the afternoon, sniffing new smells and sampling bits of banana from the pancake.