We’ve been through a lot (and we mean A LOT) of arts performances, films and exhibitions through our decade of existence, and it’s about time that we came up with a list of some of the best and worst that we’ve seen. After all, we’ve spent a good portion of our lives catching these shows to disseminate the good and the bad to our readers, so here’s our list of the most memorable from the last 10 years.
Best Local Play, Ever: Lear (1999)
Sumptuous costumes, set design, music and lighting make this one of the most beautiful and compelling Singapore plays. Ong Keng Sen’s Lear also successfully toured Japan to critical and commercial acclaim.
Worst Follow Up Play, Ever: Desdemona (2000)
After adapting Shakespeare’s King Lear for Lear, Ong’s controversial follow-up a year later, Desdemona, a reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, was dubbed as one of his most incohesive and indulgent.
Best Gay-Themed Plays: Autumn Tomyam (2001) and Asian Boys Vol. 1 (2000)
Before the onslaught of B-grade gay plays in 2002 through 2004, the sensitive Autumn Tomyam by ACTION Theatre and Asian Boys Vol. 1 by The Necessary Stage (TNS) showed that they were more than skin deep with numerous funny and sensitive moments.
Most Underrated Play: Comic Potential (2002)
Fiction Farm’s play was the local equivalent of the Razzies. But the leftfield pairing of actors Hossan Leong and Jamie Yeo made this comedy thoroughly entertaining—in an oddball kind of way.
Worst Musical: The Seventh Drawer (2001)
Touted as a serious musical (whatever), this experiment gone awry by Toy Factory Theatre Ensemble had Forever Fever’s Glen Goei singing off-key. Enough said.
Worst Play Adaptation From an Award-Winning Novel: Mammon Inc. (2002)
ACTION Theatre’s adaptation featured bad acting, dull costumes and ridiculous sets trying to be futuristic. Really, what a joke.
Most Painful Play to Watch: The Beginning of the End (BOTE) (2002)
Shocking, juvenile and extremely trying, we just couldn’t wait for TNS’ The Beginning of the End (BOTE) to just, well, end.
Most Competent Film: Perth (2005)
There is no such thing as a best local film (sic), but Djinn Ong’s Perth comes close. A compelling lead by seasoned thespian Lim Kay Tong carries this thoroughly consistent and involving film.
Most Overrated Film: Be With Me (2005)
Never mind that it showed at Cannes, this exploitative and pretentious drama about old and handicapped Singaporeans by Eric Khoo looks more like a TV melodrama.
Most Wannabe Film: Chicken Rice War (2000)
It looks more a music video crossed with elements from Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and every other romantic comedy you’ve ever watched. Oh yeah, this film by CheeK had the worst acting from model Lum May Yee too.
Most Unoriginal Film: Homerun (2003)
Jack Neo’s remake of the superior Iranian film Children of Heaven by Majid Majidi is an utter letdown.
Biggest Waste of Government Money for an Exhibition: Lim Tzay Chuen at the 51st Venice Biennale (2005)
His no-show of the Merlion at the Venice Biennale has to be the biggest joke on us. What were our organizers thinking funding this giant Emperor’s New Clothes?
Most Under-rated Local Artist: Suzann Victor (2000)
Her brilliant swinging chandelier work, ‘Dusted By Rich Manouevre,’ as featured at LASALLE-SIA College of the Arts’ Text & Subtext exhibition and at the 49th Venice Biennale, was fragile yet dramatic, poignant yet original and daring; as are all her installation masterpieces. What a shame she has abandoned us for Australia.
Best New Art Gallery: Utterly Art
Opened in 2000, this groovy little gallery should be lauded for sticking its neck out and supporting unknown local artists when everyone else plays it sooooo safe.
Biggest Loss to the Local Dance Scene: Kuik Swee Boon
His consistent stand-out performances, conveying strength and masculinity combined with beauty and passion, are sorely missed and have yet to be matched by any other local male dancer. Singapore’s loss is Spain’s gain.