Even with the SCALE of the grand Resorts World Theatre at Resorts World Sentosa to play with, and possibly a budget most local companies would die for, action comedy Flying Through Time, directed by Choi Chul Ki and Lee Jong Ho, falls completely flat. With so many resources at its disposal this is a significant disappointment.
We are introduced to the world of Ancient Korea through the eyes of Tiger, guardian of the Magical Rod, and his trained army of men. He sets off on a journey to recapture the Rod when villain Dark X breaks free of imprisonment and steals the weapon. Crossing through a portal in time and landing in modern day Singapore, Dark X and Tiger battle it out within the confines of the MerTiger Academy while innocents rehearse their cheerleading routine for a competition.
The 75 minutes performance played with no interval has an ambitious interweaving storyline, with added random romance and cliche humour. But the team struggles to deliver the story succinctly or with clarity leaving gaping holes and plenty of loose ends in the narrative.
Supposedly set in Singapore, it is strange to note that whenever there are exchanges going on – with the audience or between actors – it is done in Mandarin. Maybe it is a subtle hint of how Singapore has a lot of foreign talents in our competitive fields, but it came across as odd and misplaced. And we wonder why people still think Singapore is a part of China.
The relationship between Tiger (by Joshua Tan) and Dark X (Zhang Di) is not convincing either. They operate on a simple antagonistic relationship, or they are supposed to. However, the two of them had a long stretch of peacefulness between them within the academy compounds before another staged battle to show off fight choreography one random day. Narrative-wise, this unclear dynamic between the two lowers the stake of the entire show. It also destroys the believability of this world created for the audience to immerse in.
The design hasn’t been well thought out with sightlines in mind. There are two vending machines placed on stage at the sides. Only one of them is used, however, and the other completely blocks off the view of the seven last seats on each row in the stalls. It became problematic when action takes place closer to the wings and all you see is a Green Tea product placement used as a sort of decoration.
Neglecting blindspots aside, it became clear during the show that all the action is directed towards the centre block of audience members. Maybe staging the show at a different theatre with appropriate seating might have worked better for a frontal only direction, since the Resorts World Theatre has flanking seats.
With very obvious mistakes apparent during the repetitive choreography, the show feels under-rehearsed. Despite a strong beginning to the show with the martial art sequences, consistent performances by the martial arts team and an engaging narration by guest Mark Lee, the rhythm and steps of the main cast and acrobats becomes increasingly messy and lazy, particularly in the latter parts of the show. Starlet Melody Yap who plays a curvaceous cheerleader was perpetually late in executing her steps and uninterested in the ensemble items and only in character for her own solo moments. It’s all very well trying to showcase lots of different skills throughout the show, but it’s pointless if there is a lack of precision in the execution.
Though much promise was being made through the marketing and the hype of this adaption from Choi’s previous work, Flying Through Time is an evening that comes with clipped wings. With more time to mature, better storytelling and a stronger direction it might yet soar, but in its current form it crash-lands.
Originally written for Popspoken.