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M1 Patch! 2020: HERE COMES KAYA AND ROTI! “Where Are Our Friends?” (Review)

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Keeping the kids entertained online with stories, songs and a seemingly endless well of energy from the performers.

It’s hard to keep the kids entertained these days, with few options available besides the usual slew of videos on YouTube. How then do you keep things fresh and young audiences engaged while staying safe at home?

Enter HERE COMES KAYA AND ROTI! “Where Are Our Friends?”, where The Theatre Practice (TTP) brings live digital entertainment straight to the comfort of your home. Armed with a full suite of Mandarin nursery rhymes, stories, and plenty of energy from their cast, HERE COMES KAYA AND ROTI! represents the new wave of live children’s entertainment to hit our shores, with the amount of imagination and creativity evident in the production.

Performed over 3 days, with each episode lasting half an hour, HERE COMES KAYA AND ROTI! stars Ang Xiao Ting and Ng Mun Poh as the titular Kaya and Roti. The two join forces with new friend Guyou (Vester Ng) to get creative during the circuit breaker, and teach audiences how to stay connected, set aside differences, and learn how to make friends. Despite being physically apart from the audience, there is significant effort that has gone into creating the right atmosphere in the digital space to get viewers hyped up for the show. All three actors are dressed in style, with MAX.TAN’s costumes helping bring each character to life. Prior to the show starting, TTP also played nursery rhymes to get audiences in to the mood and set the atmosphere, creating a welcoming environment for viewers.

Over the 3 episodes (written by Su Chun Ying), Kaya, Roti and Guyou spend time sharing a medley of stories, from a tale of the friendship between a cat and a mouse, to a tale about overcoming adversity and the cycle of life, using the metaphor of a sapling growing and withering with the seasons. Scenic designer FERRY does a good job of setting the scene each time they begin telling their stories, allowing audience members to better imagine the stories and characters coming to life before their very eyes. In one instance, the cast even changes things up by using puppets to perform part of the story, ensuring that the use of tech, and constant shift in mediums and innovative camera angles keep young audiences constantly surprised at every turn.

During song and dance numbers (choreographed by Seong Hui Xuan), audience participation comes naturally, in the form of singing along to the nursery rhymes-turned songs. The songs are catchy earworms, and even adults are likely to get these songs stuck in their heads. Even for those who are a little shy, TTP addresses this issue by showing Guyou fervantly mouthing the words he doesn’t know, reminding us of our own time as children trying to catch up and fit in. To resolve this, Kaya and Roti then guide Guyou (and viewers) towards learning each song line by line, along with subtitles accompanying every song.

At the heart of HERE COMES KAYA AND ROTI! however, is an ever-important message about the value of togetherness and friendship even in the most trying of times, with Kaya, Roti and Guyou learning to bond and connect with each other despite a little initial friction. By the time we reach the final episode, there’s been plenty of goodwill built up over the three days to get us excited to see our three friends appear onscreen once again. Encouraged to dress up for this final episode (with Kaya showing us how easy it is to make accessories out of everyday objects), we were ultimately rewarded for our time with a montage of all the audience members who dressed up, almost appreciative of us accompanying them on this journey.

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As odd as it must have been to perform without an actual audience present, the team at TTP made sure that HERE COMES KAYA AND ROTI! still kept the energy and excitement up throughout the series, with good use of tech and scenography to fill our screens with wonder every time. TTP is evidently doing a great job at introducing younger audience members to the arts and instilling in them a love for it. We ended the performance feeling their presence in our hearts despite being physically apart, appreciating the lengths at which they went to make a digital performance come alive, and look forward to even more creative means of presenting storytelling and the arts online in the future.

HERE COMES KAYA AND ROTI! “Where Are Our Friends?” runs till 26th July 2020 online, with tickets available from Peatix

M1 Patch! A (Live) Theatre Festival of Play runs from 18th July to 20th August 2020. For more information and full list of programmes, visit their website here

 

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