8 plays for happy holidays

WATCHING Holiday In My Head was like running downstairs on Christmas morning and unwrapping all of the presents under the tree.

One gift could be a standard pair of socks, another an oddly-shaped gravy boat from that kooky aunt. But each one was carefully chosen, and gifted with love.

Asylum Theatre is a new company set up earlier this year by Singapore-based American playwright and director Dean Lundquist, who also created and helmed this inaugural production.

The show was crafted as an octet of plays, all written by Lundquist and related to Christmas.

Some were whimsical, some observant, while others were dark. It was held up by a cast of six performers, a mix of fairly established actors such as Andrew Mowatt and Seong Hui Xuan, and newcomers such as Zee Wong.

What made me fall in love with the show was its wonderfully groan- inducing sense of humour.

You cannot curd my enthusiasm for a Gouda pun and cheesy comedy always leaves me feeling grate.

Aside from the usual fare, there was an elf who quit his job because of an unsavoury title (hint: he helps to arrange and store fudge) and my favourite, an exhibition titled The Father, The Son And The Holy Toast, featuring a piece of bread which bears the likeness of Jesus.

The difficulty with short plays is packing a beginning, middle and end neatly into 10 minutes, but Lundquist succeeded admirably with each skit.

There were some real crackers in the mix, such as Holy Toast, a conversation between a schoolgirl who wants to convert to Judaism and a priest who dips his wafer into the Communion wine a little too often.

The final play, The Joy Of Solitude, sent a chill down my spine.

Based on Un Estila De Vida by Argentine writer Fernando Sorrentino, the play throws the audience into a bleak world where a man who is trapped in his own home finds himself with only his past for company.

After many laughter-filled skits, it was a thought-provoking conclusion to the evening's programme.

The eight plays were each fantastic, and at no point did I know what to expect next.

There were no turkeys, although one or two of them did seem a little like an Easter egg at Christmas dinner.

For example, Finger Food, about the declining use of silverware, was a snappy stand-alone piece, but seemed to be an odd fit in the night's narrative.

Overall, though, the plays did bring a lot of Christmas cheer to the chilly air of the Drama Centre Black Box, and I am definitely looking forward to Asylum's next outing.

Book it


Where: Drama Centre Black Box, National Library Building, Level 5, 100 Victoria Street

When: Till Sept 28, 8pm daily, with additional 3pm shows on Saturday and Sunday

Admission: $38 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)