Maybe the real treasure was the friends we made along the way.
When I was younger, I used to imagine that hotel stays would have been that much more exciting with a little mystery on our hands. After all, I grew up reading Agatha Christie and other mystery novels, priming my imagination with the idea that hotels make the perfect backdrop for a daring detective solving the case.
With Sight Lines Entertainment and Double Confirm Productions, that becomes a ‘reality’, with their new show The Curious Case of the Missing Peranakan Treasure. Produced in collaboration with Raffles Hotel, the online experience places the viewer as an investigator tasked to solve the titular case, watching scenes play out over the night at the scene of the crime (The Raffles Hotel), before finally deciding on the culprit who’s stolen the priceless treasure.
Directed by Hossan Leong, with a script by Jean Tay, the format of the show is relatively straightforward. Participants are given a chance to view all the events that took place over the night of the crime, getting a closer look at the various conversations and interactions between the suspects.
With accessibility as one of its aims, The Curious Case of the Missing Peranakan Treasure makes it such that it’s almost impossible to miss any scenario, which we appreciate as completionists. However, what hampers it is how each scene happens to use 360 degree cameras, which serve very little purpose as there is often only one ‘optimum’ angle to view the scene. New technology is always welcome, but has to be used strategically; in a case like this, where it is inserted into every scene without considering if it elevates the experience, it distracts rather than showcases its ability to enhance the gameplay.
In addition, the experience’s interactive elements are limited, with the ‘Easter eggs’ clearly indicated to participants, resolved with a single click that takes them to yet another scene. The rather linear process ends up feeling somewhat reminiscent of viewing CCTV camera footage, with the main difference being sharper image quality and being able to hear them speak. Without a clear reason for its inclusion, this shoehorning of new tech serves to hinder more than help the production, and one wishes that adjusting the camera might instead have revealed ‘secret’ scenes or details to discover to add layers for more adventurous viewers.
Beyond the gameplay however, Jean Tay’s soap opera-like script is fun, relying on some tried and tested tropes and narratives from mystery classics to anchor the story. The suspects may seem one-dimensional at first, but over time, reveal their muddled relationships and histories with each other with each scene. Comprising some of Singapore’s best stage actors today, the cast of Audrey Luo, Dwayne Lau, Frances Lee, Hossan Leong, Julius Foo, Pavan J. Singh, and Siti Khalijah play their roles well, each of them leaning into the inherent camp nature of their characters, exaggerating their tone and seemingly enjoying the process. Considering how little time they had to film each scene, and that each one has to be done in one take, it speaks volumes of both the actors and directors’ professionalism to achieve this within the short, 3-day filming schedule.
As a mystery, there are enough red herrings and false clues that are likely to intrigue audiences as they weigh their options as they figure out who the real culprit is. Whether you do end up accusing the correct culprit or not, the truth comes to light by the end of the play, almost Shakespearean in how it all comes full circle and wraps up nicely. It helps that there has been considerable effort to showcase the grandeur of Raffles Hotel as well, introducing audience members to the sprawling interior and luxurious furnishings.
With The Curious Case of the Missing Peranakan Treasure, we see how new technology, however innovative, it must have a purpose behind its implementation, and be better integrated into the demands of the show to really engage audiences. Still, there is immense value in the team attempting to introduce and experiment with such features, paving the way forward for new ways of experiencing the arts in future. Don’t get distracted by all the twists and turns; there is much to be treasured in a production like this, as long as you open your eyes and see the good that’s hidden in plain sight.
Photo Credit: Double Confirm Productions, Sight Lines Entertainment and
Raffles Hotel Singapore
The Curious Case of The Missing Peranakan Treasure runs from 28th March to 30th June 2021 online. Tickets available from SISTIC
Participants can log onto the website to watch the virtual interactive play anywhere and anytime between 1st April to 30th June 2021. Successful mystery solvers will receive an e-voucher for purchases at Raffles Boutique with no minimum spend.
Enjoy special ‘Treasures of Raffles’ – Experience & Play ‘daycation’ package and
the Stay & Play staycation package from Raffles Hotel here