Monday, November 7, 2016

Review: I Theatre's The Magic Paintbrush

:: The Story

The Magic Paintbrush by I Theatre is a classic tale with a realistic local twist. The play starts with Toni, a 10 year old girl in modern setting preparing for her exams. The scene was particularly familiar to me as we caught the play during Dumpling’s SA period. LOL! 

Toni was mugging for her papers where the mood was tense and temper ran high. Toni was tired and was losing focus to the horror of her father, a classic Tiger Dad, who believes in all hard work and no play as Toni needed to “study to succeed”. Toni subsequently fell asleep after she made a wish and was transported back to the past where her adventure begins...

Toni became the well-known Ma Liang in the Southern Province of China (just like “Under One Roof” ~ if you are from the same era as me, you will understand the joke!), who was gifted with a magic paintbrush by an “Old Man” played by Dwayne, a familiar face on stage having acted in many children productions. 

True to the original tale, Toni used puts the Magic Paintbrush to good use by painting food for the poor villagers. Tales of her “work” were heard and witnessed by two of the King’s imperial guards, Shrimp and Sotong, who brought Toni back to the Palace to meet the emperor who wanted Toni to make him rich, or in this case, even richer.

:: What we like
The modern day issue of paper chase and academic stress was captured well in the story by Tan Shou Chen who acted as Toni’s dad (also the emperor). The harsh words and the pushiness of Toni’s father made me cringe inwardly and at one point, I even turned back to ask Dumpling if I am like that. Ha ha ha ha…

Jodi Chan, who takes the stage for the first time in collaboration with I Theatre as Toni, was expressive and believable. She portrayed her role well as a struggling young student which was well balanced with childlike innocence. In I Theatre's usual fashion - puppets were used as some of the characters such as Phoenix (Mdm Hoang) and Chicken, adding more dimension to the production.

The kiddo’s and my favorite characters however, are Shrimp and Sotong, the two Imperial guides who added much comic relief to the play with their silly antics and physical comedy. Their song "Every Whichever Way" was catchy and fun. In fact, the song stayed in our minds and the kiddo and I found ourselves singing some of the lyrics at home!  

Living up to its usual puppetry mastery, my favorite scene has to be where Toni sent the emperor and the 2 guards off to sea. Without revealing too much, I enjoyed the visual treat and impact of the use of black light theatre which captured the ocean scene beautifully. I only wish that there were more scenes using this technique. :)

While the kiddo enjoyed the play as is, it made me reflect deeper as a parent. Toni’s father was all about the paper chase just like the Emperor with his single-mindedness in becoming even richer. Like many Singaporean parents, I often cave in to the pressure of working towards results as after all, this is a meritocratic society. I was brought up being reminded time and time again by my parents that results = good job opportunity = a better quality life.

So in the same way, I often chide Dumpling for her careless mistakes as I believe that she can do better. While not as extreme as Toni’s dad, I see so much of us, local parents, in him. The play did not just teach Dumpling lessons on greed and helpfulness but also taught me lessons on contentment and mindfulness.  

So what happens to Toni and the dad in the end, you might ask? Catch the play and find out for yourselves! After all, the Semestral Assessments in schools are over by now so why not treat yourself and your children to this play?

Event Details
Thu, 27 Oct - Sat, 12 Nov 2016
27 0ct 2016 till 30 Oct 2016
Thu - Fri: 10.30am & 2.30pm
Sat & Sun: 11am & 2.30pm

Approximately 1hr 30mins
(With 15 mins intermission)

1 Nov 2016 till 12 Nov 2016
Tue & Thu: 10.30am & 2.30pm
Wed & Fri: 10.30am
Sat: 11am, 2.30pm & 7.30pm
Sun: 11am & 5pm

Venue: Drama Centre Theatre

Disclaimer: We were invited to the play, sponsored by I Theatre to give our opinions on it. We are not compensated for the post. All opinions expressed are entirely ours. Photos are courtesy of I Theatre. 

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