Written by Catherine Ho
During pre-show, the two actresses of the play are seen somewhat relaxed and chilling on set. One keeps packing and unpacking clothes into a luggage and hurling it playfully at the other. The other, somewhat wistful, simply enjoying the companionship.
Then the show opens with the entire cast of all four actors dancing their hearts out, fun, almost primal and raw, and even vulnerable. I later thought about how, perhaps this little opening dance could be the ‘self’ that we most want to show or want to be but never find the courage to be.
Presented as part of The Wright Stuff Festival by Toy Factory, Permanence is an original work written by Gina Chew and directed by Mitchell Fang. The play revolves around Blanche as she tries to stop running and starts confronting various aspects of her life, at different points of time.
The protagonist Blanche is played by two actresses, the younger moments performed by Chanel Ariel Chan with Grace Lee-Khoo taking over as Blanche ages. This choice reminded me so much of this once popular thing people did, which was writing a letter to oneself from ten years ago. All the “What would I do if I could do it all over again?” sort of questions played out on stage in front of me. Chanel does an amazing job playing the seemingly selfish and carefree, reckless femme fatale who does whatever she wants. Yet at times, her subtle vulnerability leaves you wanting to help “fix her”. Perhaps that’s why her toxic relationship with Chris (played by Jamil Schulze) worked, for a while.
I enjoyed the conversations between the characters.
Silly banter between lovers, and even the creepy overly caring lines from the perfect-on-paper husband. What I can’t stop thinking about after the show is the twist towards the end when Nathan (played by Terrance Tan Jun Yan), the man that Blanche married, revealed that he knew what happened on their wedding day. Using that to emotionally blackmail Blanche, I sat there wondering: why doesn’t she just leave? She was clearly unhappy with this man for a while. Is a sham marriage better than not being in one at all?
Perhaps not all our lives are as dramatic as this story. But we have all looked at the plight of others and simply go: “Why don’t you get out of that?”. Haven’t we? Yet, when we start to look inward, we will see so many situations that we ourselves should get out of, but don’t.
Maybe Gina’s intention is not to ask us what we would do differently if we could do it all over again, but prompt us to reexamine our choices that we can now still make. I’m excited to see what Gina comes up with next.
There is one more show under The Wright Stuff Festival happening this weekend. To check it out, click here.