“White Road” onstage

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The Straits Times (Singapore), 07/25/2001
White Road no easy path.

SRT Young Company
Last Thursday, DBS Arts Centre

ACCLAIMED for his Sandman graphic novels, author Neil Gaiman has an intelligent, beguiling voice.

The SRT Young Company, however, had the task of adapting one of his narrative poems for the stage.

The White Road is a modern, Freudian take on the proverbial tale of a virgin betrothed to a fox in disguise – though the bride is also not what she appears.

What makes it a difficult text to dramatise is that it cuts back and forth to the gothic dreamscapes of monks, magic mirrors, murder and deceit.

Director Wendy Ng opted for understatement in this 35-minute play: A bare stage with wooden stools of different heights, awash with pools of light.

The bodies and voices of the ensemble were left to navigate the scenic twists and turns of Gaiman’s imagination.

While the actors had strong, resonant voices – a definite strength – their movements were unfortunately not as trained, or organic.

The choreography accompanying the text was so literal – for example, two performers fanning outwards to simulate the creak of heavy oak doors – it distracted the audience from listening to the words.

As a training ground for aspiring actors, the work of the five-year-old SRT Young Company should not be judged through public performances alone.

The Young Company will take The White Road to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe next month.

However, it should also work towards selecting plays that involve less fancy footwork, and whose concerns come more from the gut of these performers.