The Weight Of Silk On Skin / With Or Without You

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We are third row stage right, and a warmth rushes up my spine as John looks right into my eyes, making me sit up, eyes peeled and ears open. Over the course of the next 90 minutes, the lone man on the bare stage takes us strutting down Broadway with abandon, shows us the dank loneliness of a booth in a crumbling dim sum restaurant and leads us into the frenzy of his bed. He begs, “please be with me” and promises young, new love for the old and broken, and I am in tears — how is it that I feel young and old, whole and broken all at once? Finally, with the quiet dignity of a broken man and the skill of an experienced heartbreaker, he walks away with his back turned and the audience is held in a collective gasp, longing to hear more.

This emotionally authentic play is testament to the power and beauty of words. It is a simple, but excellently-executed story of lust, love and loss. While remaining poignant, it releases the audience from the labours of keeping track of the plot, instead letting them focus on the poetry of Huzir Sulaiman’s script, and the masterful way in which Ivan Heng undoes his shirt cuffs and takes off his jacket in a smooth swing, every quiver of his feet hinting at insecurities beneath the calm, polished surface. I had chills the entire evening, and cannot wait to buy a copy of the script and hold those words in my hands. This play resonated with me so deeply — from the references to the art of shoe- and suit-making (given that my partner for theatre nights and more gives the same recitations on an almost daily basis!), to the memories of studying abroad and the cultural vibrancy of New York City, to the pleasure of love and the pain of being torn from it. It deserves to be re-staged. Thank you for an incredible evening.

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If we prepare for relationships by looking at those of others around us, we were probably grossly misinformed. In the most idyllic versions of romance that we are taught to appreciate, happily ever after is one hand never leaving the other, public facebook wall posts of hearts and smiling emoticons. We tried to make our story flow that way, but it always rebelled. It started with more loss than love, more stubborn faith than patience. After nearly five years and a temporary long-distance relationship, we now know that human hearts connect in more ways than one, that being great alone doesn’t mean that we aren’t better together, and that there is no guilt in enjoying a flat by the South China Sea separately from an apartment by a tree-lined bicycle path in small town America.

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After nearly eight months, we are finally reunited in our own city. In all incarnations of the same dream, we are as we were this evening, walking along the grids of city hall/bugis, post-feast, on the way to be amazed by beauty and be captivated by a story while never forgetting our own. We are looking ahead and at each other.

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