You find yourself in a space devoid of any familiar characteristics among strangers. What would you do and what questions will you ask? Do you even know who you are? And even if you do, does your identity really matter?
Presented by Toy Factory Productions, Mike (Christer Jon Aplin) finds himself in The Transition Room with strangers (Marc Valentine Chia, Kaykay Nizam, Tan Hui Er, Victoria Chen, Jazmine Monaz) he has never met before. With more questions than answers as he ventures further into this liminal space, Mike finds himself questioning the very confines he has placed upon himself as a human-being.
The hour-and-a-half play is directed and written by Stanley Seah. Together with lights designed by Tai Zi Feng and sound by Vick Low, the play mainly moved forward with a strong focus on the text. Being very conceptually driven, the script was pivotal in the audience’s understanding of The Transition Room. Though repetitive at certain points – was the lack in emotional development on purpose? – and the pacing of each scene evenly distributed, there is a clarity in the play’s direction.
The starting scene was poignant for me. Silence is sometimes uncomfortable, and extended silence very much so. In that moment, you become so aware of how human you are – you hear stomachs grumble, the swallowing of saliva and the movement of fingers tapping on thighs. Your awareness expands inwards while your eyes still find themselves looking towards the stage in anticipation. It is almost funny how these small things take a life of their own in the quiet theatre and cause embarrassment or discomfort.
After all, they are ghosts of our everyday existence. We never pay attention to them.
Setting this level of awareness for the rest of the play, it is like there is a play happening right before you and another play happening within yourself. Your reactions – physical or emotional – form another layer to The Transition Room. This seems to be encouraged by the perpetual breaking of the theatrical fourth wall throughout the play. Then this begs the question of what exactly are we as audience?
Are we mere voyeurs from the present? Or are we existing in the same plane of existence as Mike?
Regardless, actors and audience alike are caught in a constant state of asking “What’s next?” and acting on a freedom that comes with predetermined choices. An illusion, at best, and really just an issue of perspective.
Capturing this in essence, the ensemble carry this idea by playing multiple roles within the play. Breaking naturalistic body language and exploring the emotional extremes whenever they can, their energy and presence added to the otherworldly atmosphere while injecting humour whenever possible. They are the constant that carry the audience forward and give us something tangible to hold onto and evolve with.
So what is life exactly and did Mike stay in only one room, or has there been many?
If you are to make a trip down to The Transition Room, what will your experience be like? And in the end, looking at the grand scheme of things, does anything really matter?
The Transition Room
Date: 21st February – 2nd March 2019
Venue: Drama Centre Black Box
Time: 3pm & 8pm on several days (More information here.)
Admission: From $40.94 (Concessions available. Get your tickets here.)
Photographs courtesy of Toy Factory Productions