PURSUANT: a musical 

Written and Directed by Jonathan Lim
Original music composed by Chen Zhangyi
Presented by Singapore Lyric Opera (SLO) 
starring Windson Liong and Mabel Yeo
Friday, 31 May 2013
Drama Centre Theatre, Singapore

Review by Hawk Liu

In his own words, the composer, Chen Zhangyi, took inspiration from musicals, and opera, jazz bossa nova, rock and anime music.  There was indeed a clever blend of music genres in the work, with also a use of different voice types for the character roles. Musical numbers are quite long drawn out with no apparent structure. What seemed to be solo numbers often led into a complex interwiving of many voices. A common musical device Chen often used was after the solo vocal line hit a resolution note, it then moved on to different notes in a slow melisma, accompanied by changes in tonality. A ten piece orchestra provided much music that accompanied the action and scene changes. There was a good deal of ostinato used. The drum set took part in much of the interlude music. Unfortunately for me, the constant use of brush on snare drum was tiring for the ears. 

The setting was a future of Singapore (most likely) where people who had creative ambitions and dreams were arrested and brought into a concentration camp, presided by a ‘camp’ warden (irony), for rehabilitation. The inmates were eventually rescued and they met an underground revolution group that remained free dreamers. The story and action were interesting and funny in many places. In storyline terms, I thought meeting the ‘old man’ and what he represented was a bit serious and preachy. 

The good level of singing in general was enjoyable and a delight. I am so glad they wrote for soprano voices in two lead roles – something I noticed Singaporean musicals have been reluctant to do so for all it’s history. There was the usual ‘Jonathan Lim’ humour one had seen in his ‘Chestnut’ series and that made the ride a fun one. The quick ‘pull-off’ costume changes were effective. The two clowns in Dwayne Lau and Candice de Rosario keep up the comedic energy. The comedienne in Crystal Cordial showed good things to come. The music score was also very generous to the beautiful voices of Windson Liong and Mabel Yeo.

Also published at http://the-mad-scene.blogspot.sg/2013/06/pursuant-musical-in-review.html

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