Watching a show by Choi Chul Ki is a rather unique experience. Ever since breaking out with the well received JUMP, his shows have grown from cult status in Korea to worldwide phenomenons wherever they tour. This December, in Resorts World Sentosa’s latest original production, they’ve once again collaborated with the Korean master of non-verbal theatre (after Chef earlier this year) to transform the theatre into an epic, time-travelling extravaganza of gymnastic stunts, martial arts and high element acts.
Co-directed by both Choi and and Lee Jong Ho, Flying Through Time is adapted from one of Choi’s previous works, which had played to sold out crowds at the Esplanade a few years earlier. Localizing the original story, Flying Through Time loosely follows the exploits of warrior Tiger (Joshua Tan) as he battles the evil Dark X (Zhang Di). Falling through a magical portal, they find themselves transported from ancient Korea to modern day Sentosa, where a cheerleading squad at the local ‘Mertiger Academy’ (logo and uniform designed by Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts) is training for a big performance.
The show starts off epic – a spotlight on a single woman dressed in a beautiful blue hanbok as she juggles two batons crowned with roses. We’re treated to a well-designed video backdrop by Nanyang Polytechnic students Shi Nisa and Lee Ming Rou that feels grand, countless soldiers in a training montage before actual actors emerge onstage to perform one feat after another, such as high kicks that break wooden panels in a single blow (by tae-kwan-do martial artist Jung Heon Sung). Each cast member is always given a chance to shine and show off their individual talents, be it Batbold Tegsh-Ochir with his slick dance moves, or even Melody Low, who showed off her ‘assets’ as flirtatious cheerleader Sexy.
Thinking about how well trained this troupe of national athletes and artists practically gives us shivers at times. The actors have obviously rehearsed very hard, with the sound cues syncing up perfectly to every punch and kick that connected onstage, particularly as Dark X battles Tiger in a tightly planned choreographic fight sequence, while Kim Yong Nyun’s lighting design always kept actors in the spotlight, and at times, definitely reached the levels of visual splendour, luminous and theatrical. When Tiger and Dark X finally fall through the time portal to emerge on Sentosa, we’ve already been coloured impressed by the many capabilities of the cast onstage, and were expectantly awaiting the next action sequence.
Flying Through Time knows exactly what it is – pure entertainment as it hurtles full speed ahead into slapstick humour and greater stunts each time. Male gymnasts Munkhjargal Enkhmunkh and Han Koog Yung showcased incredible strength and power, as they showed off their musculature with horizontal lifts on the parallel bars and swinging from the uneven bars. Meanwhile, rhythmic gymnasts Wang Yuan Yuan and Kim Ha Eun were elegant and held great poise as they dazzled with their ribbon and ball choreographies. Jung Ui Hyuk, in the crossdressing role of Captain, milked his comic relief for all it was worth, and succeeded, as well as being a great host during the audience participation portion, where local celebrities Jayley Woo and and Noah Yap were game enough to play along when they were pulled onstage.
But perhaps most enjoyable of all was Joshua Tan in the lead role. Even in his theatrical debut, Joshua impressed in each of his well-choreographed fight sequences chock full of spinning kicks and delivering precise punches. Onstage, Joshua was always full of excited energy and a masculine strength as he committed fully to his role, ready with a winsome smile at a moment’s notice. Joshua also shared good onstage chemistry with onstage love interest and Malaysian athlete Jamie Lee Yoke Jeng, their relationship emanating emotion despite the rushed plot that brought them there, especially from the co-ordination seen from their turn on the aerial silk that descended from the ceiling. Jamie herself also did well, channeling accurate physicality as Fat Girl and acting beyond the fat suit she donned, while also balancing graceful gymnastics choreographies with laugh out loud comic moments in the latter half of the show.
Where Flying Through Time lacks in narrative plot, it makes up for with the sheer child-like delight gleaned from watching these stunts and the physical humour that played out before our eyes. There’s mischief abound and a raw, infectious energy that flows through each of these well-trained cast members, making this a surprisingly competent, vibrant and cohesive show perfect for audience members of all ages, and a great way to end off 2017 and usher in the new year.
Photo Credit: Resorts World Sentosa
Performance attended 8/12/17
Flying Through Time plays at the Resorts World Sentosa Theatre from 9th December 2017 to 21st January 2018. Tickets available from SISTIC and Resorts World Sentosa. PAssion Card members can enjoy a 50% discount on shows from 9th -21st December 2017, and a 30% discount on shows from 22nd December till the end of the run.