Unabashedly bold and brutally honest, Director Tracie Pang and Playwright Ken Kwek present This Is What Happens To Pretty Girls, held at the Drama Centre Theatre till Sunday, 26 May 2019. Provocative and polarizing, Ken Kwek’s original work draws inspiration from the #MeToo movement.
Flitting back and forth between storylines, the play follows four different pairs of characters whose lives intertwine and converge with one another at some point during the play: Undergrad Sean (Thomas Pang) and lecturer Amanda (Oon Shu An) embark in a risky relationship; Natasha (Tess Pang), a new hire at a company, and her team leader Ray (Jamil Schulze) develop feelings for each other; Maureen (Pam Oei) works as a Human Resource Manager at a bike rental company, whose CEO is Lester (Adrian Pang), a frequent drinker with a foul mouth; and Becky (Serene Chen) is an author and wife to local deejay Charles (Paul Courtenay Hyu).
Without revealing any spoilers, the play is a damning indictment against the notion in the title – it shows that sexual assault can happen to anyone. While this play may have been set in motion for months on end, it could not have been released at a better timing – given the advent of voyeurism cases and the recent #DTMHTD exhibition held at NomadX, Plaza Singapura.
Created based on interviews with over a hundred men and women, This Is What Happens To Pretty Girls address issues that were once considered taboo, such as sexual assault and harassment. The rating of NC16 seems fair as well – if not underrated – as the sexual scenes were acted out in such a brutally realistic manner that there were moments that I catch myself cringing or shuffling in my seat from discomfort. Prior to the play and during the interval, audiences were notified – via the screens in the theatre – to reach out to the Pangdemonium staff at the foyer should they feel highly uncomfortable or affected by what unfolds in the play.
What Happens To Pretty Girls makes itself stand out from the other plays as it addresses the issue of sexual harassment in a rather uncommon manner. While the play drew inspiration from the #MeToo movement, it is actually not about the movement itself. The play dissects the #MeToo movement and delves more into the grey areas and blurred lines instead – situations with no easy answers are addressed through the stories of our three victims. As playwright Ken Kwek says, the themes explored in this play is “as much as a men’s – if not more so – as it is a women’s issue.”
Personally, I felt that Adrian Pang and Tess Pang stole the limelight during the play. Adrian Pang needs no introduction with regards to his acting skills, but this time he took up a persona that I have never seen him done before – a tough, foul-mouthed CEO who harbours a dark past. Newcomer Tess Pang deserves much praise too as she was able to successfully portray Natasha’s persona, which is portrayed as tough yet vulnerable. Her portrayal of Natasha is so raw and powerful that I can still vividly remember Natasha’s scenes more than the rest.
I enjoyed the unique style of flitting between different storylines during the play, although there may be some who would rather take in each storyline in its entirety. I personally loved how there was absolutely no set changes. The set was split into four different sections or levels, each with its own props such as a couch and a desk. These four “settings” are then utilized for all the scenes in the play. For instance, a kitchen countertop setting can also be interchanged into a work desk, or aesthetic couches and a coffee table can be used as a living room setting and a cafe setting.
Overall, This Is What Happens To Pretty Girls is a riveting play that will leave you questioning yourself and the people you know, and reinvent your perception towards sexual assault.
This Is What Happens To Pretty Girls
Date: Friday, 10 May to Sunday, 26 May 2019
Time: 8pm (Tue to Sun) and 3pm (Sat & Sun)
Venue: Drama Centre Theatre, 100 Victoria Street, Singapore 188604
Tickets start at $25. For more information, visit https://www.sistic.com.sg/events/cpretty0519
Visuals courtesy of Crispian Chan.