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For a modern theatrical audience who goes to the theatre to be entertained by a story rather than by a message, 'Battlefield' isn't going to satisfy easily. On the other hand, if you are someone who goes to the theatre to marvel at the language and meaning found in dialogue, this is a play you shouldn't miss.

Theatre Review (Singapore): ‘Battlefield’ by Peter Brook

battlefield singapore peter brook

The Singapore Repertory Theatre presents Peter Brook’s Battlefield from November 17-21 2015 at the newly renovated Capitol Theatre.

Battlefield examines the aftermath of the war that comes at the end of the Mahabharata, the famous epic Indian story about the lead-up and eventual war between the Princes of Pandava and Kaurava. In this play, along with the Pandava Prince Yudhishthira exploring himself after the war, we also get fables, myths and parables thrown in, which is a good idea as it brings elements of humour into the very sombre main plot.

Battlefield raises plenty of issues and questions to leave an audience intellectually stimulated, and the cast uses effective physical movements to retell the fables successfully.

In fact, the cast doesn’t quite appear natural or convincing in the main plot, as the actors deliver their lines in monotone, sans expressions. Perhaps this is to bring out the austerity of the lines, the theme or the play as a whole. However, it also means that the delivery comes across as wooden, uninspired, and entertaining only to a niche.

Where the cast does succeed is in taking on the parables and tales. Using minimal props and only their physical selves, the actors play out these fantastical but interesting stories in a very creative manner, for example by using sticks to denote a weighing scale.

Unfortunately, I found the tales and myths to be the only entertaining parts of this production, with the main story surrounding Yudhishthira seeming dull and unimpressive, even with all the deep meanings and clever dialogue.

For a modern theatrical audience who goes to the theatre to be entertained by a story rather than by a message, Battlefield isn’t going to satisfy easily. And as expected, as I was leaving the theatre, I overheard several people commenting that they were not drawn in by this play.

However, I believe that if you are someone who goes to the theatre to marvel at the language and meaning found in dialogue, this is a play you shouldn’t miss.

After all, as they say, to each his or her own.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

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

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