Firecrackers & Bombshells Review

Imagine being a part of traditional Chinese family that’s not quite traditional. The eldest son chooses to marry an Indian girl but lies to his parents that she’s from China. A youngest son who chooses the love of a man and a middle son who’s about to get his world turned upside down. We make fun of them Channel 8 dramas but trust me, we all live in a Channel 8 drama.

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The Plot

Firecrackers & Bombshells is a heartwarming comedy about an extended family preparing to celebrate Lunar New Year when all their secrets are exposed, creating chaos and cat fights. Starring a multi-talented cast of Karen Tan, Butter Seah, Loong Seng Onn, Sonja Steinmetz, Bruce San, Beatrice Chien, Timothy Wan, Michael Tan and Dorothy Khoo.

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The Verdict

This is one messed up family and I love it! Because it tells a very relatable story of our multi-racial and multi-cultural we can be yet as a socially sometimes we behave like we’re not ready to step forward. The lingering older generation that struggles to accept change and the new generation that struggles to invoke change. I like how it makes you ask yourself “why do we change” “why do we want change” and I think it’s very timely as well because in the context of social media and freedom of speech, many views are expressed and while some may be self absorbed, there are fair points…..it’s all a struggle with change.

Karen Tan was just so instrumental in making this play work, she was the glue of the cast and a brilliant blend of views and character personality types all in one. She’s just that Singaporean that has seen the older generation, is part of the new generation but wants to retain some of those old values. Of course it is Karen Tan after all so her performance was always going to be outstanding and if there is one reason you should catch this play, it’s her.

But like all plays there are a few surprises and one of them was in the form of Sonja Steinmetz. We know her as part of the trio on The Power Breakfast Show on Power 98FM. She’s got a background in acting and has done some stage work in the past but I’ve never seen this actress on stage so I was extremely pleasantly surprised at how natural she was at embodying her character – an Indian pretending to be a Chinese woman just to please her in-laws (yeah it’s that sort of a complicated family)

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I love actors who are able to perform so naturally, likes it’s a slight tweak in their personality, sort of like Karen Tan. That just makes things so natural for the viewer, you could get lost in the play and Sonja for me, made that work brilliantly.

Let’s talk dynamics. It’s a very intimate setting, small room with the stage in the centre at The Playden at The Arts House. That works very well in it’s favour because it is a family plot and it helps to be close to the cast. No need for mics as well so it frees them to express themselves even more without the bother of a damn mic in their way.

The flow of the script is very crucial here because while sitting there right in the back, I observed the audience reaction as well. The laughs were consistent, I don’t mean non-stop…..I mean consistent. A very nice pace and flow of humour and it’s relatable humour. Very current as well with good references to what we read in local news the past few weeks. Now that’s a writer who’s paying attention to what’s going on and I’m thinking this was written sometime ago so that means he evolves his script even if it’s days to opening night. So well done Jacke Chye.

I’m half Chinese and I’ve spent all my life as a son to 2 cultures, has it been a a struggle, yes actually. I’ve spent so long trying to be fully accepted and as much as I am, I will always be different. And watching this play I found so many small parts of it relatable and not just to me, even to some of my friends who face their own struggle for acceptance.

Then there’s also the sub plot of the youngest son who chooses the love of a man. I was actually a little conservative when the idea was introduced at the start of the play and that’s not like me because I do have a number of Gay friends so I understand their struggles.

But wasn’t that the point?……we all say we’re somewhat open minded but are we really? It’s not that easy to break the culture or teachings of our parents’ time. I’m not gonna give away how this sub plot was solved but I will say this……they’ve done justice in expressing the struggles of a modern day family.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Directed by Jalyn Han and written by Jacke Chye, the play is about prejudice, acceptance and knowing where to buy the best Ba Kwa in town.

When – 15 Jan to 19 Jan 2014
Time – 8pm Wed to Fri, 8pm and 3pm Sat & Sun

I believe there are still seats available for Sunday’s shows so Call 6332 6919 to book your tickets now or thru www.bytes.sg

By: Elliott Danker

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