Singapore Arts festival
19:30h on May 21 and 22
Press note by chang tou liang
CARNIVAL OF THE ANIMALS
PETER & THE WOLF
Kamchatka Theatre Company & Singapore Festival Orchestra
Esplanade Concert Hall
It looked like a scene from an inner city ghetto. Graffiti on the walls, litter strewn on the floor, and concertgoers were cordoned off, barred from entering the hall.
A minivan then gatecrashed the foyer. Instead of riot police, it was 16 members of Spain's Kamchatka Theatre Company, an outfit more in league with the Keystone Kops.
Music was on the menu, but not before a prolonged foreplay of acrobatics, juggling and visual comedy set the mood. This reviewer was literally carried away, fireman-lifted by one of the troupe and unceremoniously dumped onto the stage (some say a fate befitting all critics).
Director Adrian Schvarzstein, perfect for the part with his brow-beaten demeanour, engaged and teased. When former Deputy Prime Minister Dr Tony Tan left his seat with grandchild in tow, probably to use the restroom, he quipped, 'You are going to do pee pee now?' The concert resumed after the duo returned.
The first part was a choreographed Carnival Of The Animals by Camille Saint-Saens, with the twin sister act of pianists Low Shao Ying and Shao Suan, both of whom were royally carried to their stools. But first, a conductor had to be found. The chubby boy in the second row tried his luck and was ejected. Then a pretty senorita emerged from the audience, 'I've got conducting lessons!' she pleaded. The orchestra seemed to like her looks, and so maestra Virginia Martinez raised her baton.
Placards with big bold titles were flashed in each of the 14 movements. The street actors did their spiels, which included Mister Bean and Monty Pythonesque routines, culminating with The Swan, a gravity-defying ballet on drapes slung high above the stage.
'The second part is the part after the first part,' Schvarzstein drolly declared. Without an intermission, the Singapore Festival Orchestra accompanied Suzie Templeton's 2006 animated film Peter & The Wolf.
Radically different from previous incarnations, there was a gritty edge to the production, which swung between genuine tension and humour, and an eco-conscious twist at the end. There was no need for narration, as the story told itself with split second synchronisation from the musicians playing Prokofiev's familiar score.
More anarchic than Babies Proms and more riotous than a Taiwanese parliamentary session, the 2010 Singapore Arts Festival has delivered a winning act of uncommon pedigree.
Life! asks the audience of Carnival Of The Animals and Peter & The Wolf for their views:
'The show was especially good for children as it provided them with a better understanding of music. The orchestra was not too stiff and proper so the kids could enjoy themselves.'
Yeo Hwee Cheng, 43, communications director
It was a good show for the kids. With its blend of comedy, drama, acrobatic moves and music, they won't get bored.'
Shannon Tan, 35, pricing manager
'I like how the show got the spectators involved. The audience was surrounded by the performers, so sometimes, I did not know where to focus my attention.'
Tan Thiam Hee, 41, CEO