REVIEW: Claire’s Dowie’s Death & Dancing
Posted on June 22, 2014
In the play Death and Dancing by Buds Theatre Company, Max and Max are like two sides of the same coin. A coin that has been weathered by time, and one that has been molded and bent by every experience and encounter.
Actress Rebecca Lee and Actor Zuhairi Idris are magnificent in their energy; they’re a pulsating and passionate duo waiting to explode with honest zest.
The play looks at what it means to be gay and proud, what it means to have to defend your identity to its death, what it means to protect it against whatever currents that could be. Max Z meets Max R and begin as buds from very different backgrounds; the former from a conventional family whilst the latter begs from the orphanage. Max Z, a gay man, grows up subscribing more to the rules of a good education leading to a good job, and a good future, and all for not coming out of the closet. On the other hand, Max R, a lesbian woman, has had to learn the rules of life the hard way, and as a result, is a lot less bothered by life not acceding to expectations.
The play unfolds nicely in a series of monologues and exchanges, the scenes in parties and at the couple’s home being prevalent to the lot. What comes about most strikingly through the performances are the heartfelt monologues which you see of the two at separate points, lying on the floor and mentioning the dark days which turn into nights that they go through. The parties, bright lights and the costumes are meant to tide over the more difficult and the more introspective of questions that attack us in the dead of the night. But these moments, raw and sincere as they are portrayed by both actors, do not take away from the more outstanding scenes where the actors tackle the very essential definitions of acceptance, expression and being free to love. Being free to dress in the manner that makes them comfortable, being free to exercise their own definitions not in a manner necessarily deemed acceptable by the rest of society.
A coming of age tale of finding individuality and identity without care or conformity.
When Max Z’s father died after a good long life of solid work, it causes Max Z to reflect upon his own existence, and his own purposes in pursuing a conventional life, away from the courage and boisterousness of Max R. The departure causes him to miss Max R and he goes to the Speakers’ Corner in hopes of being able to find her. She remains an impassioned speaker putting all forms of moderates to shame.
The friends reunite in a bid to once again reevaluate the extent of their identities. They come together in peace and laughter before embarking the rest of their lives together again.
Despite its minimal setup, both actors offer strong and convincing portrayal of LGBT characters finding friendship amid struggles. The theme has seen growing interest in recent years represented by the growing number of supporters at the annual Pink Dot Singapore, a non-profit movement concerned about LGBT issues in Singapore, happening later on the 28 June.
The direction by Claire Devine reminds us that less is more: two actors in a traverse staging, making their fashion statement comebacks by branding their identities bravely and glamorously, in a story that prompts its audiences to ask, “Can we free our mind to follow our heart?”.
Buds Theatre Company was established in 2007 as a non-profit group with the aim of providing a platform for their graduated youth theatre members who had achieved professional standing through further education.