13.13.13

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Credit: Crispi Photography

13.13.13 by Shen Tan brings us way back to the time when organising weddings with aligning numbers for the day, month and year was fashionable. Or still possible, for that matter.

Held at 72-13, home of TheatreWorks, 13.13.13 is developed under TheatreWork’s Writers’ Lab – a programme in discovering and honing the craft of playwriting for emerging playwrights.

The 95 minute production follows the perfect arrangement of couple William (Thomas Pang) and Samantha (Sharda Harrison) – no marriage and no kids. But perhaps that is merely the surface of things, as secrets start to show themselves and unravel this image of perfection through promises made, insecurities surfaced and the very foundation of trust challenged.

Listening to 13.13.13 during the script read, the rhythm of text being voiced and the sense of time worked out perfectly – teasing out the nuances of the relationships between the four characters while offsetting the heavy themes addressed through humour. However, as a performance with set, design elements and acting involved, the text now becomes too explanatory.

With that, it diminishes the impact of director Tan Shou Chen‘s direction in his choice of making use of multimedia to aid the audience in visualising past memories and a holding on to the sense of time passing. By listening to what is happening on stage, while seeing it being played out on stage at the same time, seem double percussive without actually enhancing the points the play is trying to get across.

However, the actors Thomas Pang, Sharda Harrison, Jo Tan and Chanel Chan are charismatic in their delivery of characters. One moment that really hits home will be when Harrison’s Samantha discovers the ‘truth’ and has a heartbreaking meltdown with Pang’s William trying to salvage the situation. Perhaps the scenario presented is a little too close for comfort, but those words rang true and tugged at my heartstrings. I believed the honesty of that scene and its raw emotions; tears were definitely shed and I was not alone in that empathetic space.

With its focus on human relationships and in all its complexity, I hoped for more moments of interaction – off-screen and even during the transitions, beyond the reshaping of space and redrawing of boundaries through Chan Silei‘s set.

But technicalities aside, 13.13.13 is a play about love – platonic, romantic and familial – as well as the responsibilities that follow. It is a night you will walk out of, wishing to make that phone call or to hold that hand just a little bit tighter while your heart tries to make sense of the emotional ride you just went through.

Originally written for Popspoken. 

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