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A Petal For Your Thoughts: The Crabflower Club

  • SumoMe

A review on the powerful and poetic drama with an all female cast produced by Toy Factory
The Crab Flower Club, Drama Centre Theatre @ National Library Building, 4 June 2009

An article by Penny C

The period was set in Qing Dynasty, the protagonists were five vastly individualistic sisters and the occasion was their father’s 60th birthday celebration. Through distinctive poetry and charming idiosyncrasies, each sister’s unique experiences, relationships, beliefs and personalities were intricately unveiled and observed.

The stage was poised with elegance and it shone with grace; contrasting, yet wondrously blending with the vibrant colours of the actresses’ costumes. Toy Factory Productions has once again reflected its meticulous effort in melding quirky theatre, local culture and international art on stage.

Acclaimed author of The Crab Flower Club, Goh Boon Teck directed this modern take of the original work of Cao Xue Qin entitled Dreams of the Red Chamber. Contained within the city of China, the story shows how the lives of 5 sisters can be brought from the serene highs of tranquility to the devastating lows of destruction as the Qing Dynasty era begins to fall as the play ends.


The all-female cast of The Crabflower Club

Even though the stage was minimally decorated with only two towering porcelain shelves with vases, they were the perfect backdrops for each scene and did double duty to hold stage props. At the back of the stage, Singaporean ink artist Hong Sek Chern stood behind a transuclent screen and infused a touch of Chinese Culture into the performance. She did a live painting and every brush stroke that she took was projected onto that screen for the audience to experience.

Away from prying eyes and vicious chauvinistic tongues, the sisters gathered under the light of the night and in pursuit of autonomy, formed an all women poetry club where they pen rhythmic prose and melodious words incognito. Through the teasing play of words and witty take on expressive arts, The Crab Flower Club unfolded in a night of mystical delight.

Lady Han Bing is the nonchalant and indifferent woman who obsesses over her clean kitchen, only veil her misery derived from three miscarriages. Lady Wu Chang vents on how her marriage into a royal family and the loss of her youthful have bestowed her with neglect and abuse from her husband, Sister Wu Yu has her head in the benefits of natural herbs and spices and modest of them all, inferring her submissiveness towards her husband.

Wu Jie is the beautiful youngest sister who looks at the world through rose tinted glasses. She shares her naïve, yet good willed opinions of how she could teach instill class to her European counterparts with Chinese art and Tea ceremonies. Though as young as Sister Wu Jie, Sister Liao Liao lives by the hidden pictures form by stars, attains balance through the study of Ying and Yang but gets entangled in the erotic danger of lust.

The Crab Flower Club sets the audiences’ hearts on fire and minds on a constant affixation. Classic poems and intriguing monologues harbor aspects of humour, honour, passion, celebration, despair but most of all, feminine independence. It is a mark of imaginative interpretation of cultural vivacity and a valuable mar of traditional stage play.

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