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Of frozen states of mind
IF you're expecting bright Disney-esque colours, cheery little girls, and a singing snowman just because Frozen is the title of local theatre company Pangdemonium's last production of the season, then be prepared for a big surprise.
This show, written in 1998 by British playwright Bryony Lavery, is a psychological thriller that deals with heavy themes like grief, forgiveness, and revenge, through topics like child-abduction and abuse.
The story begins with a 10-year-old girl named Rhona, who goes missing one morning. It then follows the lives of her mother, Nancy (played by Karen Tan), and the killer Ralph (Adrian Pang) in the years that follow.
"It's about her journey to accepting that the daughter is not coming back, and then to accept that it's because she is probably not alive anymore - like stages of reconciling yourself to harsher and harsher truths," says Pang, who is also one of Pangdemonium's artistic directors.
Adds his fellow actor, Tan: "I think as people we're all frozen in states of mind... (the mother) is just frozen in that state when her child went missing at age 10. Cause when you see somebody when they're 10, and then you don't see them anymore, they're always 10."
As for Pang's character, Ralph, his mind seems to be frozen because of his own childhood experiences.
Describes director Tracie Pang: "That's the other question - whether it's an act (the killer) does knowingly... Perhaps certain children of abuse no longer function in society in the way people who have had normal upbringing do, and it questions whether our methods of punishment are correct."
The stories of these two characters are linked through a psychiatrist, Agnetha (Janice Koh) who studies serial killers and has a few unconventional theories about them.
Says Koh: "I think my character, Agnetha, is the intellectual heart of the show. It's because of her character that we ask questions like: How do we judge people like him. Can we judge people like him? What should we do with them? And, are we necessarily better than them? She argues that for a lot of these serial killers, their motivations are partly caused by neurological dysfunction as a result of abuse when they were younger... If that's the case, are they then liable for their actions as adults, if they were not in control?"
The original production of Frozen was the winner of the Barclay Award for Best New Play, and it was nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Play in 2004.
Says Tracie: "I think at the end of the day, the play may make people dislike themselves for maybe feeling sorry for Adrian's character. Or having question their response to what do you do with somebody who is like this...
"And I think people will come out of it with a lot of questions about the system, and we provide no answers but the fact that it makes people talk, is very important."
Frozen runs from Oct 23 to Nov 9 at the Esplanade Theatre Studio, at various timings. Tickets cost S$40. Log on to www.sistic.com.sg for more information and to purchase tickets