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Romeo & Juliet

It was a first! The first time that the grandparents had all three kids over at their house for a sleepover. And it was their idea!

With the kids well taken care of, Jon and I were free to enjoy a night out at the park.

We attended SRT’s Romeo & Juliet at Fort Canning. This is SRT’s ninth production of Shakespeare in the Park, and this year’s coincides with the 400th death anniversary of William Shakespeare. 600x400 crop

Having gone for previous Shakespeare in the Park events, and being wowed by Merchant of Venice the last time, I had high expectations for this show.

The set was a modern maze of metal, and stained glass windows echoed the Catholic context in which this play takes place. There were no period costumes as everything was set in modern times.

I thought that the play had a muted start, but it got better and better, and by the end I can safely say it was a really good show. For me, these were the standouts, and the let downs.

There was definitely a whole lot of chemistry between Thomas Pang and Cheryl Tan. They seemed very natural with each other, and that made the attraction between their characters believable. This is probably the most important thing since the whole story revolves around them!

Thomas Pang, Cheryl Tan, Daniel Jenkins in SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & Juliet

Romeo & Juliet being married. Palmer’s kiss? (Picture credit: SRT)

Mercutio was excellent. I liked how the character was played by Shane Mardjuki, and I thought it was very interesting how Mercutio was made to become an ominous symbol of foreboding. It was appropriately creepy, and brought a different element to the scenes he reappears in after his death. It was interesting to me that the Apothecary was played by the same actor too, as if Mercutio’s spirit was somehow involved in giving the poison to Romeo.

I had extremely high expectations of Remesh Panicker after his excellent! stupendous! wonderful! take on Shylock. In Romeo and Juliet, Capulet, the character he played, didn’t get as much air time at first. But when Capulet made more appearances, and more of Capulet’s personality was revealed, I was won over. Remesh Panicker is just. so. good. The sideways look, the little wave of the hand, the pause. I’m sure it’s all planned. And it was carried out to perfection.

David Gooderson, Brendon Fernandez, Remesh Panicker in SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & Juliet

The Prince warning Capulet and Montague to stop all violence (Picture credit: SRT)

I liked the set too. The lighting could change to remind you of whether you were at the Capulet or Montague’s. It was versatile enough to show all the various scenes, including the iconic climb up the wall by Romeo :) A must! And for me, it was particularly significant seeing the same space being used as the bed where the young lovers spent the night together after their marriage, and later on as the space where they shared their love in death. Things you won’t get from the movie version.

As for what I liked less, I thought it was a strange choice of theme for the party scene. It seemed very out-of-place in the play’s entirety, and felt a bit like they were trying too hard to get the Asian thing in. I think that perhaps they were drawing on the extravagant and extremely kitsch costume party shown in Baz Luhrrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. In the movie it worked. Somehow on stage, without the whizzing camera effects and close-ups, it didn’t quite work so well.

Company in SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & Juliet (2)

The strange Asian-mish-mash party (Picture credit: SRT)

I also felt that Juliet was a little too frivolous for my liking at first. She was just a bit too gushy, a bit too exuberant. I guess it really depends on how old you think Juliet is supposed to be. Some say that based on the text, Juliet isn’t even fourteen. In which case, I suppose a gushy, young Juliet could be accurate. I guess I’ve been conditioned to expect a certain kind of Juliet, so it’s really me who needs to break out of it I suppose. However, as the play progressed, I thought Cheryl Tan’s Juliet got better and more nuanced.

Cheryl Tan in SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & JulietJuliet dreaming about her Romeo (Picture credit: SRT)

Overall, I loved how the old English text was brought to life in this play. I noticed the words a lot more than I did when watching the movie, and the comical parts stood out more. It was extremely impressive that the actors could remember so much text and spout old English so smoothly! Gosh. I was also reminded that this was truly the original Twilight. When I read Twilight I couldn’t believe how quickly Edward and Bella could fall in love. Well, Romeo and Juliet did it first, and they fell in love even more quickly! See, Shakespeare was wayyy ahead of his time. Romeo and Juliet is an amazing story that’s worth revisiting. When we left the park I was still playing the scenes over in my head, and thinking about the themes that were brought out in the play. I guess Shakespeare does that to you.

SRT’s Romeo & Juliet closes on 22 May, Sun. If you have no plans this weekend, I suggest you check out this performance. It will be an evening well spent!

Tickets are available at the SISTIC website.

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“O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?”

Now, even if you’ve never read a single Shakespeare play in your life, I’m pretty sure you’ve heard that line and know where it comes from. It’s one of the best known lines from the famous Romeo & Juliet!

Or if you are from my generation, at the very least you would have flocked to the theatres to watch Leonardo DiCaprio play Romeo in the movie version of Romeo & Juliet.

This April, we are in for a real treat by the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT). As part of their Shakespeare in the Park series, SRT will be staging Romeo & Juliet from 27 April to 22 May 2016. This will be their ninth production of Shakespeare in the Park, and 2016 is an extra special year because this year marks the 400th death anniversary of William Shakespeare. To join in on the celebrations commemorating the bard’s life and works, SRT has chosen to stage what is probably Shakespeare’s most well-loved play, one which has had a profound influence on popular culture.

Main Visual (with text)

I love the Shakespeare in the Park series! A picnic with friends and loved ones, lush greenery, and a good performance of the classics. What’s not to love?

SRT’s production of Romeo & Juliet will be a contemporary take on the classic, and if Merchant of Venice was anything to go by, it will be a visually stunning production. The young lovers will be portrayed by Thomas Pang (Tribes) and Cheryl Tan (Beauty World and Red Riding Hood), with Remesh Panicker, Shane Mardjuki and Daniel Jenkins in other leading roles.

Remesh Panicker!! I’m so excited to watch him act, you have no idea. I loved his portrayal of Shylock in Merchant of Venice, and am very keen to see which role he takes up and how he interprets the role.

If you read in the Straits Times, there’s a chance that this might be the last Shakespeare in the Park (sob!). If you’ve never been, you really should go down this year to experience the event for yourself.

TICKET INFORMATION
Prices: From $40 (student and group concessions available)
Venue: Fort Canning Park
Ticketing: SISTIC at 6348 5555 or http://www.sistic.com.sg
Performances: 30th April to 22nd May 2016

 

***Ticket Giveaway***

SRT has generously sponsored 1 pair of tickets for Sun, 15 May 2016, 7.30pm for one lucky reader. To take part in this giveaway, all you have to do is leave a comment in the post, telling me who you’ll bring for the show! Remember to leave your email address.

All entries must be in by Fri, 6 May, 6pm. Please make sure that you can make it for that showtime before taking part as the tickets cannot be exchanged for other shows.

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Terms & Conditions: The winning entry will be selected at random from all qualifying entries and the winner will be announced here in the comments section of this post, and will be contacted via email.  The winner will have 24 hours to respond, failing which another winner will be selected. Tickets will be available for collection on the day itself at the performance venue.

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For the last couple of years we’ve been celebrating National Day at the Marina Barrage with the Sngs (and I just realised I never got around to putting up posts on those occasions!!). This is our 3rd year there and the boys were excited to see the airplanes zooming by.

I felt that this year’s lead up to National Day was extremely muted. There was barely any buzz without a theme song (however bad last’s year’s song was, at least there was buzz), and just an overall lack of excitement about our nation’s 49th birthday. I do think they could have toned down on the 50th year thing. Maybe wait until after the 49th birthday. The 49th is just the prelude to the 50th, it seems.

The boys were VERY disappointed with this year’s fly-by. That was the main event for them, the thing they loved most from last year. And it was such a let down. The planes came in a V formation, and left…and never came back. Asher kept asking, “Where are the planes? When are they coming back?” For the last few years the planes did more than one fly-by and the boys have come to expect that.

With the best part gone, the boys barely watched the rest of the parade, preferring instead to play with Josiah and Joanie.

To be fair, I thought there was one segment that was quite meaningful. About how even though some people were in very tough circumstances, they did not let it get the better of them.

It was also quite amusing to see the Red Lions take their jump. Amusing? Yes, because one of the jumpers got stuck in the air for a while! I don’t think it was shown on TV, but the last guy to land was stuck in the clouds and unable to come down for a good long while. At times he got lost in the clouds. Thankfully he made it down, but everyone at the barrage was pointing and speculating that perhaps he had opened his parachute too early.

Anyway, hopefully next year, being the big 5-0, the planes will take part in a bigger way.

Alyssa's first NDP

Alyssa’s first NDP. She has nothing in red, so pink was the next closest thing.

Ellery wanting to be in gree

Ellery wanting to be in green

Family shot!

Family shot!

National picnic for the 3rd year running

National Day picnic for the 3rd year running

Climbing on Jon every year (I need to dig up those pics from the previous 2 years!)

Climbing on Jon every year (I need to dig up those pics from the previous 2 years!)

Upside down!

Upside down!

Sea of people

Sea of people

Daddy & kiddos

Daddy & kiddos

Red Lions drifting down

Red Lions drifting down

Siblings :)

Siblings :)

Beautiful evening

Beautiful evening

Every year the fireworks are blocked by that same building. Wish we could shift MBS a bit to the left.

Every year the fireworks are blocked by that same building. Wish we could shift MBS a bit to the left.

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The weather looked threatening, but thankfully it held up and we could enjoy a night at Fort Canning Park watching SRT’s Shakespeare in the Park – Merchant of Venice.  Armed with picnic chairs and unhealthy McDonald’s grub, we found ourselves a good spot and settled down to what could be our last date night before baby no.3 arrives.

I was immediately stuck by the very modern set, all silver and industrial.  It turned out to be very versatile.  With just a few additions of key props, the same set was able to transport the audience from the open Rialto, to the courtyard of Belmont, to Shylock’s office, to the court room, and even a bar.

This production put the Merchant of Venice in a modern context and sought to show that the themes of justice, class, power and love are still as relevant today as they were in the past.  And references to modern forms of social interaction such as messaging and the use of iPads to screen Portia’s potential suitors was met with audible appreciation from the audience.

Strutting about with their mobiles – Photo taken from the SRT Website

I thought that on the whole the production was of a high standard, with seamless transitions between scenes, and key roles helmed by experienced actors.  I was especially taken by Remesh Panicker’s portrayal of Shylock.  I thought he delivered a stellar performance, giving Shylock a very human and vulnerable feel.  I’ve always had a bias towards Shylock as I feel he’s been wronged and unfairly persecuted by everyone, his stubborn demands for a pound of flesh not withstanding, and I felt this Shylock fit in with my idea of how he should be.  I liked Panicker’s delivery of Shylock’s famous speech from Act 3, scene 1 – “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”  Unlike many other presentations which usually over dramatise this portion, he delivered it almost matter-of-factly which, to me, emphasized all the more the words in the speech.

Remesh Panicker as Shylock – Photo taken from the SRT Website

There was one disappointing character though.  I felt that the supposedly comic role of Launcelout Gobbo (played by Sean Lai) fell flat.  He was neither funny nor amusing.  Sean’s diction was also a little hard to dicipher at times.  And the very random yells of “ang mo gui” at one point seemed out of place and downright strange (though this might be the fault of the script rather than the actor).

The most interesting thing for me was a new slant that I had never quite noticed in reading the play before.  In this production, Jessica (played by Krissy Jesudason) and Lorenzo’s (played by Johnson Chong) relationship seemed to be headed south, rather than being in the throes of love as I had remembered.  The comparison of their love to famous lovers in history was delivered in a sarcastic and tense manner, as if they were descending into an argument and spiraling out of love.  This was an interpretation I had never comtemplated before.  And the ending of the play further reinforced this view that Jessica almost regrets the actions she has taken as she has betrayed her father and is left with a man whom she is not completely happy with.  It was food for thought as Jon and I left the venue, and is something I’m still mulling over.

Gathering of friends in the courtyard of Belmont – Photo taken from SRT Website

Good acting, good sets, good music, good atmosphere.  You should definitely check out this run of Shakespeare in the park.  The show runs until 25 May, and tickets are available through SISTIC.

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Disclaimer: I was given tickets to review the show.  All opinions are my own.

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Headed to the Botanic Gardens with the girls for a picnic and was surprised to see how much water has evaporated from the lake!  Along with the brown grass and yellowing leaves, this dry spell is really taking it’s toll on the environment.

It’s been a long time since we gathered for a picnic.  The last time there was only 1 kid, some of Shan wasn’t even married yet.  This time around, we had three kids running around, and Obi was a lot bigger.  Janine couldn’t make it because she had just delivered Joseth a few days before, so we were missing her, Desmond and Jovinia.

Pot lucked it, and we were impressed that Alex had gotten up early to cook bee hoon complete with veg and meat.  Though some of us were initially skeptical, her bee hoon was really quite good :)

Had a nice morning chatting, eating, and just chilling.  I was grateful that my friends helped to run after the boys a little so that I could just relax :)

The picnic party

The picnic party

Obi had his own little space in the middle

Obi had his own little space in the middle

Ellery playing soccer with Daokai

Ellery playing soccer with Daokai

Trying to crawl up my back

Trying to crawl up my back

Enjoying Alex's noodles

Enjoying Alex’s noodles

You can see his dead tooth getting darker

You can see his dead tooth getting darker

That same day we met the Cais and Sngs at District 10 for lunch where the kids just played non-stop for almost three hours while we hung out.

Bouncy castles - what a great invention

Bouncy castles – what a great invention

Then immediately after we met my parents for a swim at Temasek Club.  We swam for two hours before adjourning for dinner.

I had assumed the boys would be completely worn out, but they still slept fairly late.  Too much stamina!

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We started the day with a breakfast surprise from McDonalds delivery.  I was really surprised (and you know how hard it is to surprise females) because I thought I was up before Jon, but apparently he had got up to order the treat and promptly went back to bed.  Not sure if it was meant for his pleasure or mine, but I shall take it that it was my treat :)

The cheery flowers that Asher had chosen for me the day before were sitting in our dining area, and definitely lifted my mood!

Flowers for me! Colours chosen by Asher

It was quite a busy Sunday.  We went to church, then headed to a birthday party, then home for a rest (sort of…more on that later), and then to picnic at Botanic Gardens.

We might have a tradition in the making.  Last year we attended the SSO Mother’s Day concert in the park and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  So this year we made it a point to go again.  Initially we were going to go as just our family unit, but it became a big picnic outing for the whole family, which was fun too :)

The place was crazy crowded, just like it was last year.  Thankfully we made sure to reach earlier and got a pretty good spot – big enough to accomodate all 8 adults and 4 kids plus stuff.  Perhaps it was because we were sitting further away this year, I felt that the music was less exciting than last year.  There were a few pieces that were very quiet, and as a result we could hardly hear it.  And I guess we were just preoccupied with entertaining the kids.

For next year, I’m eyeing the spot nearer the stage, on the flat part of the hill…gotta reach even earlier!!

Daddy being much more hands on than usual

My Mum and Ellery

My grantaunt & aunt

I did say crazy crowded right?

SSO on stage

Our little corner of the field

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My goodness!  Has it already been more than 2 months since I last updated my blog?

I’ve just been so caught up with all kinds of things.  Will update on them if I find time.  For my benefit, here’re the things we did in all that time:

30 Mar: Watched Ugly Duckling with Asher, Joanne & JC.
01 Apr: Went Merlion Hotel with the boys
09 Apr: Watched Todd the Big Green Frog with Asher, Del & Anya
17 Apr: My Mum’s belated birthday celebration @ Beng Thin Hoon Kee & post-lunch chilling out at my brother’s place.
22 Apr: Good Friday – Headed to Sentosa then crashed JJSB’s Ritz hotel room
23 Apr: Ok, might sound a bit sua ku, but Asher had his first real bubble bath and loved it
27 Apr: Ellery’s first swim
01 May: Labour Day – We went to the Istana.  Pity about the rain!
08 May: Mother’s Day – Picnic at Botanic Gardens while watching the SSO Concert
10 May: Went National Museum with Ellery to check out Biennale exhibits there
17 May: Vesak Day – Picnic at East Coast Park with church friends
18-22 May: Asher sick again!  Argh…then passed it on to Ellery! Sigh…
24 May: Asher’s first day in school with underwear!

In the week immediately following Ellery’s discharge from hospital I was pretty much glued to my computer whenever I had free time cos I discovered the joy of Sidereel!  It’s a website that has entire seasons of episodes of so many TV shows.  And to my immense joy I found Gilmore Girls.  I’m a big big fan of the series, but never got to watch beyond season 4.  Since I was cooped up in the isolation ward with Ellery and didn’t want to use the TV cos I didn’t want him watching TV all day, I ended up watching episode after episode of Gilmore Girls.

Ellery took almost 6 weeks to completely recover and not sound chesty anymore.  It might have taken longer because as he was on the road to recovery, he picked up another cough from Asher who had picked it up from someone in school.  When Ellery fully recovered there was a very obvious lifting of his spirits.  He was cheerful even while he was ill, but he was deliriously happy when he recovered fully.  He was laughing at everything, smiling at anything.  He was a real joy, highly entertaining, incredibly adorable and funny.  Then he caught another cough from Asher, who again caught it from someone.  SIGH!  Why are there so many germs in pre-school?!!?

Thankfully, the bug isn’t as strong this time around, and it seems to have afflicated Asher more severly than Ellery.  Asher was home for most of last week.  So it was two boys at home simultaneously for almost a week.  It surprised me and gave me confidence that handling them both for an entire day actually isn’t that bad.  Putting Asher down for a nap was much easier than anticipated.  He was cooperative. He was loving and understanding towards Ellery, knowing when Ellery needed Mummy.  In those times, he’d play quietly by himself.  The three of us just hung out, played and read together those few days.  It was of course quite tiring for me.  I didn’t get much rest because when Asher napped, Ellery was awake so I’d handle him.  But it made me happy too cos I’d have some dedicated time with Ellery.

The arrival of this bug saw Asher’s appetite plummet again.  It’s back to those days of eating nothing.  I can serve up his favourite foods, and he’d say firmly “I do not want to eat anything”.  Initially he was really ill, so I figured he really doesn’t have the appetite.  But now that he’s well the phase has continued, much to my frustration.  I’m having to rediscover the zen I once possessed about his non-existent appetite.  On the bright side, while last week he rejected even his never-before-rejected fruits, this week he’s at least eating fruits again.  Asher is effectively vegetarian now though.  He’s never been a great fan of meat (except in bolognaise style, or shepherd’s pie), and now he’s rejecting all fish too, even the previously fail-safe fish fingers.  Actually, even veg he’s rejecting.  He used to eat any veg, even the green leafies…now only corn, carrot, peas…aka the frozen veggies.  Broccoli and cabbage are ‘usually’ foods, capsicums generally an ‘always’ food, mushrooms were an ‘always’ now downgraded to ‘usually’ food, and funnily enough celery a ‘only at por por’s house’ food.

But where his appetite leaves much to be desired, I’m so so proud of him that he’s successfully gone 2 days in school in underwear!  Only at nap time does he wear a diaper.  After he wakes it’s back into underwear again.  I’m really so happy.  It’s not been difficult toilet training him, just a long-drawn affair.  I tried when he was younger using the babysigns thing, worked for a littttttlle while, then stopped.  I decided to not bother with toilet training until he was older, esp since a new baby was on the way and he might regress.  After Ellery was born I’d let him sit on the toilet before his shower every night.  That worked.  Then one weekend several weeks back I decided to let him try wearing underwear at home since we were staying in.  He wet himself once.  But after that went the rest of the morning dry.  We tried that another 3 times.  The 2nd time he stayed dry throughout the morning, peeing in the potty when I brought him there.  The 3rd time wet himself once.  The 4th time no accidents – that was on Sunday 23 May.  I decided to just try letting him wear underwear in school.  And he’s had no accidents so far!  Yippie!  Hope it keeps up.  And then of course there’ll be the night hurdle to cross.  But that’s another milestone.

On Ellery, one very sweet thing that resulted from the hospital stay was that we bonded a lot, and he showed a clear preference for me after by being quite clingy.  There was already a mummy-preference prior to the stay, but it was really cemented after.  I could really feel the difference.  And I guess it’s to be expected since I was by his side constantly during the 4 days.  I hardly saw light of day…lost track of time since we were in the isolation ward with no windows.  When he was being poked and suctioned I was the one holding his hands.  Also, it was probably the first time that he’d had me all to himself for such a long stretch.  Normally there’s always Asher around who’ll talk my attention away from Ellery.  So even though it was an unfortunate event, I think there was something really good that came out of it.

I’ll end this long catch-up post with a funny quirk about the boys.  Asher continues to be on the small side.  At 2.5yrs he’s not even 13kg yet, that’s at about the 25th percentile.  When he was a baby he was quite consistently ard 5th percentile for weight.  For height he was always on the tall side.  Ellery on-the-other-hand is a hovering around 97th percentile in weight!  He lost no weight at all during his bout of pneumonia.  There’s one pair of shorts that Asher can still wear (a little tight) that Ellery can also wear (a little loose)!  Maybe they’ll be sharing a wardrobe sooner than I think!

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