Talk about revisionist history.
Who knew that before nationhood, Singaporeans spoke with a Filipino accent?
But then expecting Singapura: The Musical by the Philippines-based 4th Wall Theatre Company to be an accurate portrayal of Singapore's struggle for independence is like mistaking Les Miserables for a documentary about the French Revolution with singing.
Miserable is also how you can describe the press reviews for Singapura: The Musical, which premiered at the wonderfully refurbished Capitol Theatre earlier this month and will run until June 7.
The Straits Times complained that the musical "suffers from a horrendous lack of focus", with "thinly drawn characters" and "pleasant but ultimately forgettable" music.
The Today newspaper lamented that the 2½-hour musical is "based on real events, but never at any point feels real" and is "about two hours too long".
With my expectations sufficiently lowered, perhaps it was not surprising that I found myself well entertained when I attended the performance on Friday night.
This was despite me not being entirely sure what was going on for much of the plot.
For example, if the wife owns a "kopitiam", why does the husband need to work as a bus driver? Just so he can be involved in the Hock Lee bus riot?
By the way, the title Singapura: The Musical is a bit of a misnomer as it suggests a wider scope than is presented. Instead, it should be called Hock Lee Bus Riot & Its Consequences: The Musical.
Anyway, the point I want to make is, if my wife is rich enough to own a "kopitiam", I wouldn't be driving a bus. I'd be at home shaking leg all day.
I was further confused by the story because I was seated so far away from the stage in literally the Nth row of the circle seats on the third storey (which I had to take a lift to) that I could barely see the actors' faces and had trouble identifying a few characters.
That'll teach me for getting the cheapest ticket, which at $75 wasn't very cheap anyway.
At that price, binoculars should be provided.
But after a while, the plot points and knowing who's who didn't matter.