'The Mousetrap' is the longest-running show in the world. Photo: St Martins Theatre London
Halloween is coming, and countless fine establishments are fighting to have their costumed actors jump out at you screaming, that is, if you haven't already planned an evening at a party while (barely) dressed as Red Riding Hood or the big bad wolf.
If you crave some slightly more highbrow entertainment that's still in the spirit of the season, allow us to suggest a night out at the theatre.
The following darkly-themed shows will provide you with the desired morbid thrills and tickles, and best of all, they'll still end early enough for you to hit up that haunted house or have drinks at the bar after.
The Mousetrap. Photo: St Martins Theatre London
Legendary murder-mystery writer Agatha Christie wrote this dark play for the late Queen Mary's 80th birthday, so you know it will be scares with substance.
The longest-running show in the world that is still freaking people out on London's West End, this moody masterpiece finally comes to Singapore, courtesy of Singapore-based British Theatre Playhouse, which has been showcasing quality British productions here since 2003.
The plot: Seven people are stranded by snowstorms at a remote country manor, with the phone line cut off as well. A policeman manages to reach them to tell them a murder has been committed at a nearby farmhouse. Moments after the alert, one of them dies. Those remaining realise the killer is among them, and must figure out who it is before they are brutally picked off one by one.
The play is littered with horrors, but also hints, so the audience can try their hand at solving the mystery before the unfortunate characters do.... provided they don't fall victim to an attack of crippling paranoia by then. Of course, if Queen Mary could take it at 80 years old at that time, you should be all right.
‘The Mousetrap’ | Date: 4-13 October 2013 | Time: Tue-Sat 8pm; Sat-Sun 5pm | Venue: Jubilee Hall | Address: Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road | Tickets: $90-$120 available from Sistic
Not Quite Moulin Rouge
‘Not Quite the Moulin Rouge’
‘Not Quite the Moulin Rouge’is also a murder mystery, but with songs. This musical is a relatively rare creature presented by Singapore company Bellepoque, which specialises in operettas, cabaret and art songs.
Company founder Sabrina Zuber said: “Our original Bellepoque shows are mostly comedies, and this will have no scary moments at all. But all the characters have a good reason to commit the murder, so it will keep you guessing.”
And what characters they are – all workers in the fanous Parisian nightclub in 1929. They consist of an accountant who dreams of being a producer, a producer who dreams of being a man, an exiled Chinese star and a Parisian dreaming of Hollywood. All of them want something bad enough to kill, but who really did so?
While this musical may be lower on the freak-you-out scale, fans who love dressing up will surely appreciate the gorgeous cast in gorgeous costumes to rival the Halloween crowd at any classy club. The four singers/actors/dancers include the lovely Caitanya Tan (‘Code of Law’), Elle-May Paterson (‘National Broadway Company’) and the studly Linden Furnell (‘Next to Normal)’.
Expect them to slink onstage in sequin-studded outfits worthy of Paris in the flapper era, singing songs from the time and trying to dazzle their way out of the death sentence.
‘Not Quite the Moulin Rouge’ | Date: 17-20 October 2013 | Time: 7pm; 3pm (Sun) | Venue: Alliance Francaise Theatre | Address: 1 Sarkies Road | Tickets: $37-$47 from Sistic
‘Gruesome Playground Injuries’
This two-hander is presented by Singapore theatre company Pangdemonium Productions, and focuses on the relationship between Kayleen (Seong Hui Xuan) and Doug (Alan Wong), as they age from eight to 38.
They are an attractive pair except for the vicious damage they sustain.
“It's pretty graphic,” the sultry Seong, who was named Life! Theatre Awards Best Supporting Actress 2013, said. “Without giving too much away, Doug especially sustains some nasty injuries from doing some foolhardy and dangerous things... lots of blood and gore.
Seong Hui Xuan and Alan Wong
“Kayleen's are more internal...among other issues, she has chronic stomach ailments, which are gruesome in that you see her throw up quite a bit. There's quite a lot of bizarre, dark humour surrounding their respective ailments.”
But the play is more than an excuse to vomit and bleed all over the stage. It's a wickedly funny, disarmingly moving showcase on the dysfunctional, but no-less-intense modern-day relationships.
Seong, who is a fan of Halloween, will have to give this year's parties a miss, just like the last.
“Last year, I was doing the musical ‘Company’ during Halloween, so a few of us decided to dress up backstage and make everybody do so too. We also went trick-or-treating each other backstage, and I got so much candy that even after Christmas, I still had some left over.”
She encourages audiences to follow her example when they turn up for the show. “Nothing's to stop you from dressing up as some gore-covered creature… and when you see us in our injuries… you'll feel part of the play.”
‘Gruesome Playground Injuries’ | Date: 31 October-10 November 2013 | Time: Tue-Fri 8pm; Sat-Sun 3pm & 8pm | Venue: Esplanade Theatre Studio | Tickets: $40 from Sistic
Jo Tan is a professional freelancer whose CV includes wedding singing and selling fish. She actually likes salads and tofu, and doesn't eat chicken because she had two as pets (their names were Bubbles and Joveranter Cat.) However, she is not a hippie because she is bad at yoga and like most of Singapore, expects to slave her whole life to pay for her new HDB flat.