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Theatre Review (Singapore): ‘Rumours’ by Neil Simon

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The Open Stage presented Neil Simon’s comedy Rumours at the DBS Arts Centre on the 18th and 19th of October 2013.

Rumours is about some affluent couples who gather for a dinner party in honour of their hosts’ tenth anniversary. However, when it is discovered that the host has shot himself in the head, and the servants are missing, comedy ensues as the couples must figure out what happened, whilst maintaining their own reputations in the process.

Open Stage is an amateur theatre company put together by people who are passionate about theatre and Neil Simon’s Rumours was an excellent choice for them as the script is so funny and witty that the burden is somewhat lessened on the actors – most of whom are first-timers and inexperienced.

The acting was not consistent, with some of the cast making good acting choices, and others overacting to the point of being farcical – such as Lim Jun Jie who portrayed Goral Chhetri and Ishika Sircar who played his wife Chhabi Chhetri. Also for most of her performance, Sircar employed a frown and little else, which made her portrayal too wooden and one-dimensional. Lim, on the other hand, had problems with the pronunciation as well as the enunciation of some words, which made his words incomprehensible at certain parts.

Tushar Ismail and Aditya Mazumdar fared a lot better, with Ismail being a very natural actor, delivering his speeches with ease and nailing his comedic lines with perfect timing. Mazumdar brought the slapstick with his overzealous gestures and deliberate enunciation. His dancing in one scene in particular had the whole house laughing. Mazumdar showed great skill at the physical comedy in this piece.

Also worthy of mention is Neena Khattar who played the leading role. She brought to her role subtle layers and variety in verbal and facial expressions. Although her accent was not always consistent, and I wasn’t sure if she was trying to sound American or Indian at times, Khattar had good comedic timing and delivery.

Overall Sazali Othman did a great job directing all four couples and a police investigator in this action-heavy piece, incorporating slapstick moments and clever dialogue to give us a production that was entertaining and very funny.

I hope The Open Stage continues to produce pieces like Rumours that would attract a modern audience and play to its strength. I, for one, can’t wait for their next production!

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.