By Samara Gan
I was invited to watch a preview of Frank on Tuesday afternoon and I am so glad I went for it.
Frank, USP’s first Fall Productions, is a modern day Singaporean take on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and tells a tale of how Singapore society reacts to the unknown, and with fear and imagination, turns it into a monster.
Much of Frank’s charm is in its titular character Frankie, portrayed by Liew Zhi Hao.
Zhi Hao plays Frankie with a childlike innocence, layered with curiosity and hurt, something that takes experience and skill to portray. His portrayal elicited a sense of sympathy for the character, a curiosity to find out more about him, as I constantly looked forward to his next scene.
A particularly emotional scene in the play brought tears to my eyes. I shall not spoil you by saying what it was, but let’s just say that a large part of it is due to Zhi Hao’s heart-wrenching performance as Frankie.
But he was not the only star of the show. The main characters, played by Zachary Fernandez and Rae Teo, also put up amazing performances as an awkward critical-thinker-turned-writer and a conflicted civil servant respectively.
Perhaps it was due to the actors’ undeniable chemistry on stage that I half expected them to declare their undying love for each other at one point in the play. Whether my expectations were met is something you can find out for yourselves.
What made Frank even more enjoyable was the funny caricatures brought to life by its supporting cast. Be it an overenthusiastic fangirl (whom I totally relate to), the neighbourhood drama queen, or a government spokesperson with a heavily nasal accent, there is a charm to every supporting character. Special mention to supporting cast members Shu Qiao and Naomi Lourdesamy, whose comedic timings were simply spot-on.
Frankly speaking (pun intended), the plot of the play is mostly predictable. But this structure gave the cast members room to really flesh out their characters. That’s what made Frank so enjoyable to me.
At the end of the play, I left the USProds team with a heavy heart, with Frankie’s agonising howls forever burned in my memory.
Frank comes to life at the National Library Building’s Drama Centre Black Box this weekend (29 Sep to 1 Oct). Shows available on Friday night at 8pm, Saturday at 3pm and 8pm, and Sunday at 3pm.
Tickets for Frank are available at $19.