Jul 19, 2009

My Thumbs Up for Own Time Own Target

So I watched the play Own Time Own Target yesterday. It was almost full house; the sales must have been doing well, and for good reason. The show was very, very good, and both Mrs Wang and I enjoyed it a lot. Try to catch it if you can - it's on for one more week.

Here's the Straits Times review if you want to know more about the show.

The first show - Full Tank, by Laremy Lee - weaves a highly improbable scenario into a hilarious comedy. An SAF tank commander is angst-filled about his career decision to stay on in the army. In a moment of folly, he commands his crew to leave a military exercise and drive their tank to Orchard Road. The plot is interwoven with the story of an escaped terrorist and how the incompetent Minister of Internal Security tries to cover up his bungles by exerting his power over the press.

(I'm sure Wong Kan Seng won't enjoy this show though, LOL).

The second show - Botak Boys, by Julian Wong - is a musical about five recruits thrown together for the first two weeks of BMT. All its colourful characters were memorable, from Simpson the chow ah beng, to Eusoff, the guitar-playing Malay relak jack. The main character Justin Lim was, errrr, a much more challenging role to play (you'll know what I mean, if you watch the show) - but he stood out with his singing performances and was the star voice of the show.

The highlight of both shows were the assortment of funny, colourful, true-to-life and yet bigger-than-life characters. Great acting by all the cast members.

I cannot help but look back at Madam Wee Hua Boey's letter, which I had blogged about several days ago. About the show, she had written:
"I am sure I was not the only one who was disturbed by the excessive cursing and swearing by the officers at the recruits. My observation was that people laughed out loud not at the clumsiness of the recruits but mostly because they felt uncomfortable with the profanities."

No, Madam Wee. I think you really might have been the only one. Other people laughed out loud, and kept laughing throughout the show ... because the show was really very funny!


Anonymous said...

Actually I went to the matinee: I almost left the theatre:
Full Tank was barely OK; the references to Wong Kan Seng felt dropped in, the pace was languid, and all was not so well woven

I enjoyed Botak Boys: well written, subtle in tones, great mise en scene

But what almost made leave the room was indeed the immature audience: despite the show being PG-16 or whatever, it felt like I was was in a theatre full of 12 year olds: laughing ever so loudly at every mention of "ball" "dick" "CB" "pee" "gay" "homosexual" (and they were all in their 20s to 30s!"

Will I go again to the theatre?

Well I will try to avoid the Singaporean "children" matinee

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

I didn't enjoy Botak Boys for its "subtle tones". Quite the opposite - I felt that the parts which attempted subtlety were in fact the weaker parts of the show.

It is difficult to weave emotional subtlety & depth of character into what is after all intended to be a comedic performance. I alluded to this, in my main post where I said that Justin Lim's role being difficult to play. It's a bit like putting Gong Li into a Mr Bean show and expecting her to portray one of her usual complex, dark, multi-faceted characters.

It is commendable when a show intended to be a comedy does keep its audience laughing all the way. It shows that the show succeeded in its intentions.

Too bad for you, that you found the audience's laughter during a comedy an unacceptable occurrence.

Or perhaps you only wanted the audience to laugh at the parts that you personally found funny, and stay solemn at the parts that you personally found not funny.

Hmmm, strange. But anyway, to each his own.

Unknown said...

Mr Wang, I read your blog often and I'm glad you enjoyed it!

It's true, some people hated the show, and some even walked out during Full Tank. We as the actors can only just do what we've rehearsed and just trust out director and playwrights and just carry on.

The people who liked it loved it, and those who didn't hated it. Since both plays are the firsts for the playwrights, I'd say they did a pretty good job though. Of course, that's no excuse, so to speak.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the PAP, always get two opposite reactions from people.

Onlooker said...

The play is quite good.
But I can understand why some people might consider it offensive.
Because it depict National Service exactly as what it is with some self depreciating humor.
High ranking officers though will not like that play.

Unknown said...

Molepunch, your contribution's very mature. You can't please everyone. I absolutely loved "Own Time Own Target". Very impressed with the talented cast who performed their roles with ease and believability. Language-wise, it's SO realistically NS.. haha!

Unknown said...

Thanks, Med, Onlooker!

We always get nervous when we spot young kids in the audience! Or families!

Anonymous said...

Can't agree more that you can't please everyone, but it certainly pleased me. I watched it quite a few months back, I guess the response was really good that it came back for more.

Does anyone or is it just me who feel that these actors have better acting skills than most TCS actors / actresses.

Anonymous said...

Notice that TCS's employees are "stars" not "actors"

Anonymous said...

To come back to my comment

on Full Tank
The best scene is of course the dialog at the petrol station, between the petrol uncle and the sargent
I also think that since the actors were still in the tank when a scene was happening in another location, the duality could have been kept, by having the actors actually act during that time, with dimmed lights maybe

I still feel that the WongKanSeng Scenes are a total let down, and some other, better, device could have been found (TV/radio interviews?)

And yes I wish that the audience were to laugh at the same time as I; it would have avoided me the laughter during Dead Mean Walking

If four letter words are the way to make audience laugh, please notify the writers, it would simplify their task

BTW there were some less than 10 year old kids in the audience; as usual parental guidance has a different meaning when its the parent that need guidance

Sour Grape

Unknown said...

I have a confession to make, Molepunch, umm... me & my 3 daughters (aged 12, 14, & almost 16) were sitting in the 3rd row from the stage wolf-whistling at the "risque" attire you so sportingly donned! All in good fun though. Besides "Own Time Own Target", my girls have only watched "Miss Saigon" and "Wicked". How good was "Own Time Own Target"? As soon as the show ended, my girls turned to me & asked, "Can we watch it again PLEASE?" So calm those nerves.

And, yes, Anonymous, these stage actors are better than most. Keep in mind, television & movie actors can mess up & retake scenes, whereas stage actors are "live" so they've only got one shot to get it right ;)

Unknown said...

@Anon: Glad you enjoyed the previous run!

TV and film acting is a slightly different creature in itself compared to theatre acting. I am trained in theatre; I think TCS actors/stars focus more on melodrama whereas in theatre acting craft we focus on physicality, voice, working with the audience's energy, and other disciplines that TV actors don't have to work on. (This might probably explain why most TV actors have trouble crossing over to theatre.)

@Charles: I think for these two plays about NS and disenfranchised men, crass and lowbrow humor are intentional. It doesn't mean that this is what we in theatre define as comedy, though. Certainly, I respect that such humor is not your cup of tea, but I really think that that was what OTOT was going for. The audience that attended are mostly those who are into such comedy, perhaps? I'm not sure.

@Med: Hahaha... I guess you figured out who I played. I was initially rather mortified when I found out about my costume, haha. Wow, thank you! I'm really glad you guys had such a good time! I'll tell my fellow actors later. Thanks again for the kind words!

Anonymous said...

@MolePunch: you photo on your blog tells us who you are

Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

But Charles, you are not appreciating the flexibility of the f--- word in army lingo.

Depending on how it is used, it can denote anger; annoyance ("F--- you"); surprise ("F---ing hell!); alarm ("Oh, f---!"); punishment ("kena f---ed"); bad luck ("F---, man"); an admonition to cut the crap ("F--- you, lah"); a bad mistake ("f--- up"); an instruction to go away ("F--- off"); and occasionally, actual sex.

In other words, in linguistic terms, it is an extremely versatile word. Offhand I can only think of the word "lah" as being comparable in flexibility.

When an f--- word is uttered during OTOT and the audience laughs, I don't think it's just because of the f--- word. It's the overall context of that part of the script. They are laughing at a joke somewhere, and it just so happens that the f--- word is used in the sentence(s) conveying that joke.

Anonymous said...


If you go to a strip club, you don't expect ballet. And just because you enjoy ballet doesn't mean you can't also enjoy a striptease.

Unknown said...

Whoa! Anonymous.. that is deep. But I think I get your drift. Rather like how comedies range from slapstick to satires. Some people love them all. Others may find "The 3 Stooges" stupid & boring, and absolutely not their cup of tea.

Charles: to be fair, "Own Time Own Target" comes with an MDA Advisory on strong language. Plus there are snippets on youtube for one to check out the show beforehand.

Thank you, Mr Wang, for highlighting the key phrase "army lingo" and the versatility of the f--- word within that context. It takes awhile, but most women develop that linguistic understanding regarding Singaporean men who have been thru NS.

And, Molepunch, thank you again for a delightfully entertaining performance :)

Anonymous said...

Why should the citizen's money be managed by TMS in the first place?

OK,OK,I got it,mandate fr heaven and some still buy that.