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

Southeast Asia Globe - - Contents -

The New Yorker de­scribed the

show as “Sesame Street meets The Ex­or­cist”. Is that a fit­ting

de­scrip­tion?

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

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