Review: Without Reason (M1 Peer Pleasure Youth Theatre Festival 2017)

Updated: Aug 4, 2018

"Without Reason is an important play in Singapore’s theatre canon, daring to raise questions about the viability of and challenges to the survivability of an interracial relationship in our judgmental island home. For the most part, it succeeds at getting the point across, as Wei Yi and Hazmy face opposition on all sides. When Wei Yi asks her friends if she could bring Hazmy to a party, they were unwilling, exasperatedly lamenting the difficulty of having to change her entire menu to a halal one just to accommodate him. Hazmy’s friends play up his insecurities – the usually amiable jokester Izwan (a stellar, committed performance from Izzul Irfan) questions if Hazmy is good enough for the Cambridge-bound Wei Yi, highlighting their inherent class divide, in addition to their already burgeoning racial and religious differences.

And that’s just their friends. In each of their families, their parents berate them with  presumptuous stereotypes as well. Lines and baseless assumptions such as “You Dont know? THEY only work four days a week and slack off the rest of the time?” and “Are you sure she’ll convert to Islam? You know these Chinese girls…and the clothes they wear” came from both sides, to shock and gasps from the audience. Yan Ying’s bold script does not hold back from showing the ugly side of Singaporeans lying just beneath the surface of our supposedly racially and religiously harmonious country. There’s a conversational quality to her script that’s relatable and could well have been extracted from an actual talk in real life. This was also buoyed by each family’s realistic portrayal of their familiar family dynamics, and Yan Ying has done good research to write each of them as a believable family, even having each of them express their ‘willingness’ to hear their respective son and daughter out, when in reality, they’re better off not saying anything at all. No matter what experiences we’ve gone through, we’ve seen this people in real life before: a mother more understanding than a father (Hazmy’s family), and stubborn, traditional parents determined to get their way (Wei Yi’s family), who refuse to see reason unless presented with a completely sound argument (according to their logic) and a means of benefitting in the long term."

"... For Peer Pleasure, Without Reason is a crucial, daring play that highlights these often overlooked issues that too many simply ignore or smooth over with the guise of ‘I’m not racist, but…’ statements. Without Reason ultimately spoke to its audience on a clear, understandable level, and hopefully, enlightened them on the long way we still have to go towards true racial harmony in Singapore."


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