The cast (Ruzaini Mazani, Eleanor Tan, Ezzat Alkaff, Jo Tan, Ann Lek, and Zachary Ibrahim) of “Let’s Get Back Together.” (Red Pill Productions)
Duration: About 120 minutes
Dates: 7 July (Thu) to 10 July (Sun), 2016
“Let’s Get Back Together” is a testimonial theatre piece that explores the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT) in Singapore. It is based on interviews with over 50 subjects, and weaves their stories together into one coherent performance. It features Ezzat Alkaff, Ann Lek, Ruzaini Mazani, Eleanor Tan, Jo Tan, and Zachary Ibrahim. It is rated R-18.
“Let’s Get Back Together” is a play on the initialism LGBT. This year is its second run, with its first run being in 2014. It uses verbatim theatre to express the stories of the many people interviewed. And if you look carefully enough, and you’ll be able to identify several outspoken (but low profile) members of the community sharing their views through this performance.
Eleanor Tan in “Let’s Get Back Together.” (Red Pill Productions)
The most painful part about the coming out process for many of the stories is the disbelief and rejection of the family members, whether they be parents, siblings, or spouses. Conversely, the most heartwarming aspect of these stories are when old-fashioned, traditional loved ones finally accept them for who they are. These stories remind us that regardless of gender or preferences, the human need for love and acceptance is universal.
Fresh and unique representation of stories
I have to admit that when I first heard (and learned of the word) verbatim theatre, I was rather hesitant about how it would turn out. However, the interview portions are juxtaposed with re-enactments, showing us how the situations played out for the profiles and their loved ones. This, combined with the innovative use of theatrical props and updated for 2016, means that the stories continued to be fresh and relevant, despite being over two years old.
Grounded by an experienced cast
If some of the cast members look familiar, you’ve got a sharp eye — several of them have appeared on television in various roles before! They help to ground the stories with a genuine but varied performance that differentiates the characters played, even though it’s the same person in those roles. It’s a masterful show of stagecraft that underscores the theme that no matter how different we are, we’re all still human.
The ladies and Ruzaini Mazani in “Let’s Get Back Together.” (Red Pill Productions)
**Large disparity between the cast **
Conversely, the seasoned performances are a stark contrast to the less skilled portrayals from the six-person cast. It can be particularly grating to see a hammy monologue right after a rousing, tearful speech about acceptance and love. The difference is even more striking when they have a scene together, and jars you out of an immersive performance at times.
Focus changes partway through the performance
“Let’s Get Back Together” starts out strong, with memorable stories and moving tales of family and friends. The second half of the play moves into a social commentary that doesn’t quite have the impact of the beginning, with a tangible change in focus and energy. Fortunately, it ends on a feel-good note as it promises hope for the LGBT community in Singapore.
Masks in “Let’s Get Back Together.” (Red Pill Productions)
“Let’s Get Back Together” is a unique representation of unique stories, and shows us the universal human desire for love and acceptance.
Should you watch this? Yes.
“Let’s Get Back Together” was part of Wild Rice’s Singapore Theatre Festival 2016.
Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.