Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Review: The Little Company's "The Ugly Duckling" 丑小鸭

The kiddo and I have been attending productions by Singapore Repertory Theatre for years. When I started taking on the onus of guiding her in the Chinese language in the earlier years, I had problems looking for meaningful Chinese theatrical plays for children. I lamented to my buddies that such productions are so rare and it was such a pity because bilingualism is something really close to my heart.

We then caught our first Chinese play with SRT 2 years ago with The Three Little Pigs 三只小猪 and we loved it. So it was with great excitement when Dumpling and I met up with our buddies for a morning of fun with SRT’s Chinese production of The Ugly Duckling 丑小鸭.

We first watched the English production of The Ugly Duckling in 2011 and the kiddo enjoyed it. The Little Company (TLC) incorporated small elements of audience interaction in the 50 mins production and it was the same in the Chinese version.

The play starts with a narrator in Fairy-tale Kingdom 王国 interacting with the children, telling the story. Isabelle Chiam as the narrator certainly brought the play to ‘live’. She was lively and humorous, providing some comic relief in the play. The entire production was told through puppetry with colourful props and backdrop.

The story of The Little Duckling unfolds as a mother duck waited patiently for her eggs to hatch where one out of the four eggs was none other than The Ugly Duckling. Much larger and 'uglier' as compared to the other siblings, he was mocked and ostracised from young. The duckling later ran away from home where he embarked on an adventure, met a myriad of characters and later learnt the truth about himself and his identity.

For me, the objective of bringing the kiddo to a Mandarin production is such that she gets exposed to Mandarin, useful expressions and phrases. For that, The Ugly Duckling 丑小鸭 did not disappoint. Comparing this to the Mandarin production of Nightingale 莺 (also by TLC), The Ugly Duckling 丑小鸭 was produced with younger children in mind.

Children were introduced to counting in Mandarin as well as simple idioms.The puppets used (friendly sheepdog, fat hen and the vain cat in the barn) were adorable and well liked by the young audience. At one point, there were wild geese “flying” from the back of the auditorium towards the stage where “Ooohs and Ahhs” filled the auditorium.

Of course, in this famous story by Hans Christian Andersen, the issues on bullying and being different were discussed. Values such as teamwork and compassion were also demonstrated when autumn leaves floated down from the ceiling and the audience was encouraged to pick them up to “cover” the poor ugly duckling and protect him from cold.

The Ugly Duckling 丑小鸭 is certainly a great production to bring your children to where they can soak up (almost) an hour of fun learning Mandarin! The Ugly Duckling 丑小鸭 will run until 1 August at DBS Arts Centre. Tickets are available through SISTIC.

Event Dates
Fri, 10 Jul to Sat, 1 Aug 2015
Mon - Fri : 10am
Fri(17 Jul):11am & 2pm
Sat: 11am, 2pm


Disclaimer: We were invited by SRT to watch the play in order to give our opinions about it. All opinions are strictly ours. 

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