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503 Theatre

No Particular Order
4.0Overall Score

With minimal stage effects and only four actors, No Particular Order takes on the massive task of coming to terms with the horrors of war recurring at regular intervals.

In these brief sketches we see a multitude of characters illuminating tiny areas of street protest, uprising, food shortage, police raids, covert surveillance, of people leaving homes, refugees on a journey and random shooting.  For some war is an adventure, but most are scenes of tension and resignation.  Early scenes suggest the ineffectiveness of radicalism, ‘This is the Left?’ the secret policemen says, ‘Gathered in circles in the backyard jerking off to each other’s outrage?’

Writer Joel Tan covers many different viewpoints with interaction taking place between two or three of the actors in each scene. A sign which lights up against the white backdrop of the stage is the only initial indication of where the action is taking place in each setup. With each short scene, challenges arise and must be resolved for each of the characters.

Tan’s spare dialogue is rendered by Jules Chan, Pandora Colin and Pia Laborde-Noguez with a stand-out performance from Daniel York Loh who plays most of the older male parts and gets most of the laughs (which, admittedly, are few).

A second act, thirty years later set in an art gallery regards the memorialisation of war with a more than cynical eye.  Tan’s writing ponders the conundrum that art is everything, ‘the art museum was the first thing they took’, but art is also purchased and subverted by the state.  Even more blatant is a scene of a teacher being told by his principal not to teach war poems so as not to upset the children who, ‘take peace for granted.’ Like much of the dialogue elsewhere, underlying threats or dangers lurk.

A third act, 300 years into the future, on a spaceship where the crew have to work out what to do with a wounded refugee gives a grim picture of the truism that nothing is ever learned, history repeats itself because of who we are.

There is a recurring motif of falling feathers in this bleak and ambitious play about some of the most important issues facing us today.  By the end it is not clear whether they symbolise hope, the death of freedom or just the death of birds. However, the extent of Tan’s attempts to convey different feelings and effects of the war on different section of society is impressive.

  • Drama
  • Writer: Joel Tan
  • Director: Joshua Roche
  • Cast: Jules Chan. Pandora Colin, Pia Laborde-Noguez, Daniel Yok Loh
  • 503 Theatre
  • Performance Ends 18 June 2022
  • Time of Performance : 7.30. Runnung Time 90 minutes

About The Author

Reviewer (London/UK)

Julie Peakman is a historian and Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. She is a frequent contributor to journals, magazines, and television documentaries on history, culture, sex, and feminism. She started life in the theatre as an actress and is currently writing her next book (‘Love and Lusts in London’) while working as a librettist developing her books for the theatre.

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