Watched Fundamentally Happy yesterday and hmmm…. there were things I liked and things that I did not like.
For one, Clarence and I were excited to see how the story unfolds since this topic of paedophilia is a touchy one. It was only watching the show that I found out it involved rape and molestation. This definitely made it a really difficult play to put across since there has to be awareness of boundaries that may be touchy.
The first thing that catches your eye (my eye) is the stage. BRILLIANCE!! It was so beautiful and realistic. It reminded me of Pangdemonium’s set for Falling. Antique sofas, antique curtains and even the design for the wall/backdrop was considered. My favourite was definitely the “rain”, which I assume they used some sort of fish tank kind of method to simulate rain outside the “windows”. We could see through the windows and it was “raining” outside, with the intensity changing with the scenes. This is probably the first play I watched with the use of (natural) sound being so poignant and integrated into the rest of the play. The raindrops at one point created a slow drip drip drip soundscape which added onto the tension created and I just loved that moment.
On hindsight, the use of the radio in my own personal opinion was bad. I have no idea what it was meant to do for the audience and it just made everything more fragmented.
It was really aesthetically pleasing with an almost functioning living room on stage. Lights and radio sounds could be controlled from both the stage and the control room, which I thought was helped to keep the acting flexible and real.
Acting wise… I would say that the actors took quite a long time to settle down proper into their characters though. Both stumbled over their lines a little bit and the chemistry was weird. Then everything else became weird (perhaps its how the script is written) when things later did not make logical sense and emotionally it did not match up also, like how Habiba forgives then don’t forgive then Eric forgives and uncle is caught and Habiba’s leaving… There were so many knots tied and left untied, it was quite confusing and unconvincing somewhat at the end of it all. But I wouldn’t disregard both the actors’ efforts to do this play in Chinese and sometimes Malay/Cantonese. There were parts that I could believe Timothy Wan was really hurting, and I liked how Lok Meng Chue worked her laughter into her character to show openness and sometimes to hide her pain. But maybe when we put it all together, some things don’t click while some clicked only after a bit. It was quite obvious also that they were sometimes struggling to get the words right and staging even before putting in their emotions.
Otherwise, this topic I would say is very fresh in the scene for now, where we kind of want to just stick to happy musicals and feel good shows. It plants an uncomfortable seed to think about as we move along.