Written by Stephanie Yeo
Edited by Mitchell Yeo/Ong Hui Shan
“Amber is a pure chroma colour on the colour wheel halfway between orange and yellow. It is named for the material known as amber, which varies from nearly yellow to orange or reddish-orange.” Its ambiguity and complexity resemble that of human feelings in this story, as the characters go through a whirlwind of emotions, the most compelling one of which, is love.
An hour before the show started at 8pm, there was already a long, winding queue at the entrance. Some people got there early just to reserve tickets and get the best seats in the theatre. The response to the KE Chinese Drama production has always been positive, thanks to the strong reputation built year on year since its inception 12 years ago.
“Amber” tells of a gripping love story. The heroine’s (Xiao You, played by Cheng Ran) fiancé dies tragically in a car accident. She later learns that his heart had been donated to the suave but cynical playboy Gao Yuan (played by Hua Yue). In Act 1, the life and personality of Gao Yuan is revealed. His failing heart is a result of his flamboyant lifestyle – sex, women and alcohol. When Xiao You finds out that Gao Yuan possessed her dead fiancé’s heart, she visits him in hospital just to “hear his heartbeat”. Flattered by the attention Xiao You gives him, Gao Yuan decides to seduce her on first sight (she is single and pretty afterall). A video on Xiao You’s depression and despair after the death of her beloved was also screened. This video presentation is a first in KE Chinese Drama history.
In Act 2 after the intermission, things start to heat up as the love story between Xiao You and Gao Yuan unfolds: motives are questioned. Beneath her soft-spoken demeanor as a museum curator, Xiao You seems to be suppressing her fiery passion for Gao Yuan, who is certain that Xiao You has fallen madly in love with him. The tides turn when Xiao You finally reveals that she has been following him around, burying her head in his chest just to hear his heartbeat, the only remnant of her fiancé’s presence in this world. It was an epiphany of all sorts, as the liar realizes that he had been cheated by a woman who came across so harmless and fragile. Nevertheless, it was still a good ending as Xiao You eventually comes to terms with her fiancé’s death and Gao Yuan decides to cherish this woman, all of this expounded in a lengthy exchange of sweet nothings and confessions.
This year, things were done a little bit differently – the production team toyed with the idea of experimental theatre. Instead of having the audience as passive observers, they wanted the audience to react directly to the characters’ actions, and engage them on a subconscious level by challenging their thoughts. The sets were simple, white wooden boxes. They could be easily climbed on or moved anywhere on stage by the characters, representing the characters’ intentions to overcome an obstacle or realise a thought.
The team also pushed their creative boundaries by incorporating many visual treats, one of which was the video presentation right in the middle of the play, and a music-cum-dance number choreographed by Zeyu, also another first in KE Chinese Drama. The play became the talking point for the rest of the night as people pondered the deeper message delivered in this novel approach.
Chinese Drama never fails to impress with their high standards of production and publicity, from their superb acting to the ingenious use of technology. It’s no surprise that the turn out every year is close to full house for both production dates!