Thursday, 11th December '03
Aiyoh. It's been a while since I watched both the preview (2nd Oct, I think) and the actual thing (7th Nov) so pardon me while I try to get my memories together coherently enough to write a proper review.
Let's start with the overall impression. I remember coming out of the preview thinking "Wow! Good stuff... go Sean!". I guess after being cheemed out of my socks by the very unrevealing Revelations and the equally unfathomable Koan, this really was a breath of fresh air. True to the joker spirit of the people who put it together - at least I know for a fact Haikel, Kumar, Errol and Sean are huge jokers - many parts of the show were ROTFLMGDMFAO funny (if you'll excuse my French).
Aside from poor little Nicholas bouncing that red rubber ball awkwardly along some dingy looking corridors on the JVC-sponsored TVs, the show opened with a huge bang and self- depreciating tomfoolery. Yes, tomfoolery, that's the word. I guess that's what you could say was the most endearing part of the whole show - the fact that these guys (oh, alright, men) knew exactly which parts of themselves to laugh at and were so comfortable doing so. But where was I? Oh yes. The opening contained the most RIDICULOUS dance sequence I have ever seen - to the tune of the Village People's "Macho Man" our boys pranced, marched and flexed their way through to the hearts of delighted audience. It was a real pity they didn't manage to draw us in as much in the Theatrette as in the Black Box, but it was a good job all the same.
And here's where this reveiwer gets a little confused. Having watched both the preview and the real McCoy, I don't quite know which version I'm supposed to talk about. The show was essentially a devised piece, so there was no real plot. There were, instead lots of different senarios real men might be thrust into.
What I especially liked about it was the touch of honesty in the performances. Cliched though some of the observations might be, they were still brought to life with much sincerity and I appreciated the show for that. My favourite scene was Michaes' "dog scene", and although Mich and Beck and Jia seem to see nothing in that scene, it was the one scene that dragged me to the tetter-totery brink of tears. And if you know me well enough, I'm a pretty darned resistant show watcher. I have never cried at a show yet. So this says something, yeah? Or maybe it's just the fact that I have a dog about to go the same way Micheas' Junior went. And I understood completely everything he said about learning to love, but not learning to treasure, and always thinking there would be another day.
Randall / Kay Tong / Nicholas' scene about a three-generation father and son relationship and dealing with the death of the oldest one was quite the tear jerker as well. At the preview the scene went magically, Kay Tong being the stoic ghost of the grandfather and Nicholas being the pesky grandson in denial. The real showstealer then, of course, was Randall's amazing performance (at least to me lah) as the father caught in the middle of his mourning and being strong enough to carry his own sone through the tragedy. Light Years was absolutely nothing to go by, I promise.He was crying so hard I could've sworn I was going to get wet (thus discovering the magic of front-row seats. How interactive). Pity his energy dropped so much by the actual show (but who could blame him) and reaching out emotionally is so much harder in the theaterette.
Sad bits aside, Oh Man! was most memorable for it's sheer silliness and the way it wasn't afraid to make fun of men and all their insecurities / stupidity / duh-ness / rituals. Sure, we got the classic faire like NS jokes ("what's your recall code? Big Dick?" *cue insane male cackling*), and the guilty son getting caught with his porn by his just-as-eager-to-see-it-all father ("Orrrhh... I tell Ma you want to tengnok perempuan tehteh!" - no I can't spell it, you'll have to try and make it out). But it was insanely funny, all the same, and like I said, the cast were such huge jokers you couldn't help laughing along with them at every turn. The bumbling spy scene between Errol and Micheas had me in stiches... and much as Errol complains about always getting roles where he has to "act" (please note my inverted commas *grin*) stupid he's just so darned good at it. And I especially loved the the Haikel / Kumar tatoo parlour scene, lewdness notwithshtanding. In short - Haikel wanted his wife's name permenantly inked on his privates. Kumar said "Anabelle" was wayyy to amibtious. Haikel said "Belle". No? Umm... "Anna"? Kumar: "Err. I think... "A"." I still grin to myself when I think about this.
The top tens lists were hilarious too... Ten Things Men Can't Do (trust me, the accompanying song and dance by Haikel, Kumar, Randall and Michaes was side-splitting. My favourite line, before they remind us of all the things they men can't do, was "we can sing... we can fly *or something*... we can make the cockroach die!" *grin*), Ten Things Men Hate About Themselves ("we hate our impotence!!!" *insert manly war cry*), Ten Things Men Think But Dare Not Say ("we really want to have sex with as many women as possible!! We really want to rule the world!!!" - thanks, Errol). Endless top ten lists lah.
Another special thing about Oh Man! was it's willingness to do slightly different stuff from normal devised pieces... think Nicholas' story-telling segment with appropriate hand gestures. The TFYE has been imitating that segment like mad... ask me if you want a replay. Haikel's rapping about his daughter was heartwarming - though it occurred to yours truly that it was a rather obvious rip-off of Will Smith's "Just the Two of Us". And then there were Kumar and Randall's stand-up comedy. Or Randall's attempt at stand-up commedy and Kumar's dirty fun. To be honest, Kumar went on a little longer than he should have for the actual show... and the preview jokes were so much funnier. I really enjoyed his segment at the preview, jibes at the sponsors, TC's set and his fellow actors (loved the bit about Kay Tong wheeling in and out) etc. but by the time he got to the real show it got somewhat reduced to jokes about guys and their manhoods. But still, Kumar remains unbeatable at the standup comedy game. Wonder if anyone really did take his advice and slap Sean for making the guys do that stupid STUPID "Things Men Can't Do" jig.
This review is going on a bit long... and is probably incomprehensible to anyone who hasn't watched it. But I have one more scene to mention - that "Men on Trial" scene. I like it. Tension, Kay Tong being creepy as the adament wife-beater. The execution bit was a tad much perhaps - and Randall's "posing" got slightly amusing - but I enjoyed the live gunfire. I'm just a little girl at heart. I like me my toys. Speaking of "toys", TC's "giant pneumatic phallus" (quote from the Inkpot review) - the crane on his set, ok, not his, well, nevermind - I thought was a nice touch, though I'd have preferred it be used more subtly, like in the preview. Having it crash down at the end of the "impotence" line of Things Men Hate About Themselves in the real show ruined the fun of it, somehow.
Better wrap up now. Just read a back-dated issue of 8days in which Steph Song commented she'd like to see the Oh Man! cast in bikinis. It occurs to me this could be very natural (Kumar) very painful (Haikel), very disconcerting (Kay Tong) or very amusing (everyone else). Could we see Sean in the bikini too? Please? In the meanwhile, though, the skirts are enough. But you don't see Kay Tong in his white, lacey, pink pom pom affair in this picture. That's a sight to tell one's grandchildren about. Oh. Man.
Images from Inkpot Theatre Reviews and the Oh Man! flyer.
[well, the pictures aren't going to take themselves!]