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When there is so little entertainment these days that an entire family can enjoy together, it is simply wonderful to have a production like 'Monkey Goes West' that will absolutely enthrall people of all ages.

Theatre Review (Singapore): ‘Monkey Goes West’ by Wild Rice

Monkey Goes West by W!LD RICE (photo 4)

It’s that time of the year once again for Wild Rice‘s annual panto. This year’s offering Monkey Goes West will be playing at the newly refurbished and recently reopened Victoria Theatre, from 21 November to 13 December 2014.

Directed by Wild Rice’s regular panto thespian himself, Sebastian Tan, with music by Elaine Chan and book by Alfian Sa’at, Monkey Goes West is based on the famous Chinese myth Journey to the West and tells the tale of Ah Tang (Joshua Lim), a boy who lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin but who doesn’t have the happiest of homes. One day, Ah Tang meets Monkey King (Sugie Phua) who needs to make his way to the West in order to collect some scriptures. Together with Pigsy (Frances Lee) and Sandy (Siti Khalijah Zainal) the two deal with villains, myth and magic on their journey to the West.

Pigsy, Ah Tang, Monkey King and Sandy - as they journey to the West.
Pigsy, Ah Tang, Monkey King and Sandy – as they journey to the West.

To cut to the chase, this musical is deserving of a high A+.

There isn’t anything this reviewer could find flawed in this musical. Great melodious foot-tapping music? Check, thanks to the profoundly talented Chan who writes most of the music for Wild Rice’s pantos.

Meaningful lyrics that brilliantly convey moments in the musical? Check.

Entertaining storyline? Check. Double check in fact.

Witty, funny and full of humourous dialogue? You bet, check! (And in Singlish too).

Majestic sets and costumes? Absolutely! Check!

Superb acting? Check. And a special mention has to be made of Frances Lee who played the male Pigsy so convincingly I only knew it was she after I looked at the programme during intermission. Lee is certainly one exceptionally skilled actress to look out for in the future.

In fact the only thing that worried me a little were the sexual innuendos and double entendres peppered throughout the musical. However, it didn’t seem that any of the kiddies understood those adult references, and therein lies the skill of Sa’at at writing a panto that is both enticing to children and captivating to adults.

When there is so little entertainment these days that an entire family can enjoy together, it is simply wonderful to have a production like Monkey Goes West that will absolutely enthrall people of all ages. So whether you have a young family, an old family, or are single, you really should watch this very localised Singlish musical because honestly, you don’t have a reason not to.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

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

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2 comments

  1. Of course the sexual innuendos will be there considering alfian and ivan from wild rice, being both gays, have to further the LGBT agenda indiscreetly.

    • The point you’re missing is the author said she was worried for the kiddies in the audience. Don’t use this as a platform to be a bigot.