Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Singapore Trip '09 – Day 02: A Day at the Theaters

After the late night out, we woke up around 10 am on the second day we were in Singapore. The first show that we had scheduled to see on that day would only start at 3pm which meant we had a few hours free to explore the area. After a quick shower, we went around the corner from the hotel to Purvis St. for a light brunch at a nearby noodle shop. Like many streets in the area, Purvis St was a collection of old shophouses of which some have had their interiors renovated with a more modern look. I definitely loved how they were able to preserve the old building facades and retain the charming character of the area. We were soon joined by our host in Singapore who would be going with us to watch the shows that we had planned that day.

After a wonderful brunch of noodles, we walked towards the Bras Basah Complex for a bit of book shopping. Consisting of 5 floors of book shops, the complex was definitely a book lover’s heaven. There were several shops in the complex that offered used books in a wide range of subjects as well as a big Popular bookstore for the newer releases. There was even a comic book shop on the 3rd floor there for me to indulge myself although I didn’t end up buying anything there as their back issue bins were not really well laid out for me to check their offerings. In the end, we spent nearly 3 hours there just browsing for used books and occasionally finding something that we wanted to get for ourselves.

Before the show started, I made a pit stop back at the hotel to stash away our book purchases before walking down the block to the Singapore National Library building. The show that we were watching that afternoon, Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” presented by the W!ld Rice Theater Company, was being staged at the Drama Center Theater located inside the National Library building. We met up with some friends who were there to watch the same show at the theater foyer for some light refreshment before proceeding to the theater to watch the play.

I have not actually seen a production of or even read the play despite it being one of Wilde’s most enduring pieces. The W!ld Rice production further spiced things up by casting an all male cast for the play and not having actors who play the female roles dressed in drag. They were instead dressed in Victorian inspired suits which, while tailored for men, had a distinctively female feel in cut and embellishment to the design to set them apart from the suits that the male characters wore. I will definitely keep this production in mind as a baseline for comparison with future productions that I might go and see.

We left the Drama Center at around 6 pm to head out to the Esplanade Theater where they were staging Shakespeare’s “A Winter’s Tale” directed by Sam Mendez as part of The Bridge Project. This was the play that we had planned the trip around and I was excited to finally be there to watch it. We made a stop at one of the shops at the Esplanade Mall for some souvenirs before proceeding to the nearby ThaiExpress café by the Bay for a Thai dinner. We made a stop at Max Brenner Chocolate Bar for desserts afterwards and stayed there just until they called the show. Thanks to our friend in Singapore, we managed to get seats which I fairly sure was among the best seating locations in the house where we settled down and waited anxiously for the show to start.

“A Winter’s Tale” was also one of the Shakespeare works that I have never read about before so I came into the show with not knowing what to expect. As the show progressed and I was able to catch on with the language, I found myself mesmerized by both the story and the wonderful performances by the actors on stage. There were parts that was a bit slow and, being as tired as I was already by that time, hard to focus on but there were quite a few moments both in the story and performances that managed to keep me hooked on what was happening on stage. The production was not exactly what I imagined a Shakespearian production to be as while they kept the language of the original text, the production was set in a different setting and age than it was in the original text.

The show ended around 11pm and we took a walk back from the Esplanade to Bugis Street. We stopped for a late night supper where I tried the Singaporean version of Roti Canai and Murtabak. I have to say that I personally felt that the Singaporean Roti Prata was not as good as our local version since they don’t fluff it up like they do here to make it softer. As for the murtabak that I had, it was definitely different than what we know as murtabak here. I didn’t end up enjoying the murtabak I ordered as I had to pick out small pieces of chicken bones that got mashed up with my murtabak filling. Once we done with our supper, we walked down the street back to the hotel where we ended out day at the theaters that day sometime around midnight.


famil said...

10AM cant be considered as early :p

does the canopy struts remind you of madonna's corset? hi hi..

for the Oscar Wilde's play, was it being played by the locals?

Nickxandar said...

Famil ...

It was early enough for some of us :-p

I guess if you see the canopy from above, it would look like her corset, but if you see the struts from ground up, it looks like a different anatomy part .. kehkehkeh.

The actors in the play was a combination of Singaporean and Malaysian actors.