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Made up of skits about local issues and personalities, 'Chestnuts 50' did not disappoint in making the audiences roar with laughter through the entire production.

Theatre Review (Singapore): ‘Chestnuts 50: The Unbelyeevable Jubilee Edition’

 

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Made up of skits about local issues and personalities, Chestnuts 50 did not disappoint in making the audiences roar with laughter through the entire production. From mocking the recent Pasir Ris Design-Build-Sell-Scheme (DBSS) flats that had comically narrow corridors to Singaporeans personalities like Sun Ho and magician’s assistant Priscilla Khong sporting sudden American accents without leaving the island, writer-director Jonathan Lim nailed each saga with the right amount of humour and relatability.

Other plays and musicals like Monkey Goes West, Singapura and LKY the Musical were also satired, especially Sharon Au’s performance in LKY the Musical, which I reviewed last. In that musical, Au had a tendency to draw out syllables when they should be clipped and vice-versa, and this was of course exaggeratedly played out to great laughs in this show. In fact, Au wasn’t really all that bad in her actual role (see my review where I wrote about her pronunciation problems) and this critic started to even feel a little bad for her. But alas, that is Chestnuts’ satirical take – where nobody is spared!

Au’s snaffu when she interviewed a young Indian girl at a recent event and then proceeded to shake her head in what must be the most overused stereotype of Indian-ness, was also included at multiple points in this production. However, it got tired after awhile when it was done for the third time. The same can be said of another segment where Judee Tan would let out a bewildered “huh” whenever the synopses of plays she was meant to portray were too esoteric to understand. It was overly done though.

Actually this very segment that dealt with the plays that were produced and staged in Singapore over the last 50 years felt mismatched in terms of tone with the rest of the very funny, very comical, very humorous Chestnuts 50 production.

The one poignant moment of addressing Lee Kuan Yew’s death was handled so well that those who loved him would’ve shed a tear and those who hated the man would’ve still been thrilled at the witty cheekiness of the lyrics. Sung to the tune of “When You’re Gone”, all five artists – Judee Tan, Jonathan Lim, Joshua Lim, Faizal Abdullah, and Dwayne Lau sang in perfect harmony and pitch as they delivered the evening’s most sombre moment.

This critic for one cannot wait for Chestnuts Area 51 or Chestnuts 2016: The Year After, or whatever zany title and skits the Chestnuts Team come up with, as this year’s Chestnuts 50 was an incredible two hours of laughing my throat sore!

Chestnuts 50: The Unbelyeevable Jubilee Edition ran at the Drama Centre from September 17th to the 27th 2015.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

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

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