Janice Koh and George Young in 'Swimming With Sharks'. Photo: Crispian Chan / Pangdemonium
Who has not heard of Adrian Pang, award- winning actor and familiar face in Singaporean media? And what about Pangdemonium , the company Adrian founded with his wife, theatre director Tracie Pang?
For those who still do not know Pangdemonium, 2013 is the year to really get to know their work.
Pangdomonium, Singapore ‘most kick-ass theatre company’, have already brought contemporary classics to enthusiastic audiences over the last three years. Starting with the iconic and mesmeric musical “The Full Mounty” in 2010, the Pangs are establishing themselves at the forefront of the best Singaporean theatre in English.
'Swimming With Sharks'
2012 saw them enjoying a third very successful season with George Young winning Best Actor at the Elle Awards for ‘Swimming with Sharks’and ‘Spring Awakening’ being hailed as ‘one of the best musicals ever written’.
The best is still to come with the 2013 season: for the first time Pangdemonium will present three productions in one year: ‘Rabbit Hole’ in April, ‘Next to Normal’in September, ‘Gruesome Playground Injuries’in October.
These productions, three modern American classics by Pulitzer-winning authors and huge success in Broadway, are definitely going to be the very best of international theatre to be staged in Singapore. With the choice of high quality scripts, the Pangs are making the point that they want to explore difficult and darker places while making still very entertaining and enjoyable theatre.
“There is a strong theme in all three plays, about people in the darkness of places, trying to find the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Adrian.
Rebecca Spykerman in 'Spring Awakening'. Photo: Crispian Chan / Pangdemonium
Tracie, who will direct all three productions, spoke of “the fractured relationships” the complex struggles between the characters but also highlighted how hope is the ultimate message in all three.
“They are very flawed characters and the people around them have to cope with their flaws to move forward. There is basis for hope, not clear happy endings in the plays but hope for the future.”
‘Rabbit Hole’ (25 Apr -12 May 2013 | DBS Arts Centre, 20 Merbau Road) tells the story of a couple dealing with the loss of their child after an accidental killing. Staged in 2006, the play (written by American playwright and lyricist David Lindsay-Abaire) was praised for its powerful and honest exploration of human sufferings. Janice Koh (‘The Pupil’ and ‘Fighting Spiders’) will play Becca, the mother and Adrian Pang, the father, Howie who’ll be challenged to communicate emotional depth with genuine realism.
The musical ‘Next to Normal’ (6-22 Sep 2013 | Drama Centre Theatre, #05-01 National Library Building, 501 Victoria St.)will see the return of Singaporean and West End star, the sublime Ria Jones (‘Cats’, ‘Evita’, ‘Les Miserables’).
The original production was written by writer and lyricist Brian Yorkey who won a Pulitzer Prize, as well as composer Tom Kitt who won a Tony Award for Best Original score in 2010. Not your ordinary happy-clappy musical: Diana, suburban housewife fights with the demons of bipolar disorder, while her daughter Natalie, played by 16-year old Julia Abueva (‘Spring Awakening’) and her husband Dan (Pang) try to come to terms with her behavior and defiance towards medical treatment.
This piece promises to be both very entertaining and poignant and the presence of a West-End talent will not go unnoticed.
Last but not least is Pulitzer Prize finalist Rajiv Joseph’s ‘Gruesome Playground Injuries’ (31 Oct-10 Nov 2012 | Esplanade Theatre Studio, 1 Esplanade Dr.) which according to Pang “is a ‘quirky, screwed up romantic story.”
A dark comedy that swings between laughter and tears, the play follows the life of Kayleen and Doug, two people in love who miss the opportunity of being happy together. Unfolding over three decades, the pair cannot be more opposite: Doug is full of life but bizarrely prone to accidents; Kayleen hates her life and hides a painful secret.
With Pangdemonium local art/theatre cannot be more flourishing.
Pangdemonium will offer a $130 open-date ticket for all three shows. Available for sale from 1 December 2012 to 10 May 2013.
Writer, theatre and fiction critic, researcher and academic, Mary Mazzilli started writing plays in 2001, training first at Soho Theatre and then at the Royal Court. Her most recent play 'Magical Chairs' has been staged at the Southwark Playhouse and at People's Theatre as part of the Beijing International Fringe Festival (2011). She shares her writing career with an academic interest in literature, she holds a PhD in Chinese and Comparative Literature at SOAS, London on Gao Xingjian and Martin Crimp’s plays and has lectured in Chinese Theatre and Films at SOAS. She is currently a Research Associate at NTU as well as a contributor to The Times Literary Supplement, Theatre Voice, What's on Stage and OneStopArts.