Your monthly guide to culture
We caught up with Singaporean actor Janice Koh, who is currently appearing in Hand to God, a satirical play about a satanic sock puppet that was staged on Broadway and in London’s West End before coming to the city-state
The New Yorker described the
show as “Sesame Street meets The Exorcist”. Is that a fitting
I think it’s one way of explaining what it’s about. It’s quite hard to give a tagline to this show, because while it’s really funny and is a comedy in many senses of the word, it’s also quite complex in some of the themes it explores… It’s about a mum and her son who are dealing with the grief and the loss of her husband, his father. As a way of moving on, the character I play has agreed to start a puppet club in the church. Except the puppets suddenly take on lives of their own. They aren’t nice, cutesy, fun puppets; they are the demons within us.
What drew you to the role and the show?
I think that as an actor I’m always up for a challenge. This one is particularly challenging, the reason being that while it has many funny moments and it’s really tempting to just play the comedy, these characters have to be authentic and very real in their struggle.
It sounds like working on this show is pretty interesting…
Yep. We’re having a lot of fun.
I love doing shows that are slightly dangerous and dark, to push those buttons, push those boundaries. The play deals a lot with emotional and sexual repression, and then when a crisis happens the characters release that and it results in chaos. The puppet character that my onstage son has is foul-mouthed, blunt, crass – it’s everything we think but that we try to hold inside of us. So the show is quite interesting in how it puts us under the microscope: what happens when you zip it up too much?
– Dene Mullen
When and where? KC Arts Centre, Singapore, until 6 May