Drama review: Cook A Pot of Curry

Drama review: Cook A Pot of Curry
Curry buddies: (From left) Neo Swee Lin, Rishi Budhrani, Noorlinah Mohamed, Judee Tan and Nelson Chia deliver a wonderful performance.

SINGAPORE - Wild Rice/Lasalle College of the Arts, The Singapore Airlines Theatre/Last Saturday

When playwright Alfian Sa'at's Cooling Off Day premiered in the heat of general election fever two years ago, there was an overwhelming sense of "yes, that's me" in the audience - as if a mirror had been held up to the Singapore populace and refracted into the audience.

It was quick-witted and incisive, and critics cheered the docudrama's ability to capture that swirling cauldron of taut emotion and heated debate that was Singapore on the verge of a vote.

In Cook A Pot Of Curry, that shared sentiment is still apparent. Alfian has his finger on the Singaporean pulse and he is deeply, insistently aware of what drives the ordinary Singaporean trapped in a crowded MRT cabin or worried sick about the rising cost of living.

If Curry had been Alfian's first attempt at verbatim theatre, of collecting myriad views and giving them a context and a framework, it would have been a much more revelatory experience.

But coming on the heels of Cooling Off Day, Curry, unfortunately, emerges the lesser cousin. Yes, it is the resurrection of a winning formula. But formulae are nonetheless somewhat predictable.

The real-life curry incident was reported in the newspapers in 2011: A couple from China had complained about the smell of curry being cooked by their Singaporean Indian neighbours. This acts as a catalyst for the work and is also where the play gets its name.

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