Arts Review Singapore Theatre

Review: Fat Kids Are Harder to Kidnap 2022 by How Drama

More mayhem and madness as How Drama returns with a new edition of their signature show.

In a year that’s been characterised with the chaos of a ‘post-COVID world’, with borders opening up and a new normal that feels like we’re going back to the old normal, there’s only one thing to do – make sense of it by making light of it all. And if it’s one company that can be counted on to do exactly that, it’s How Drama, with their signature show Fat Kids Are Harder to Kidnap ® .

Directed by Melissa Sim, and co-written by Melissa and Jeremy Au Yong, the concept for the show is simple: in the course of just 60 minutes, the cast of Ross Nasir, Pavan J Singh, Nicholas Bloodworth, Victoria Chen, and Dennis Sofian perform a whopping 31 plays. The twist – you as the audience gets to decide the order, as you yell out the corresponding numbers of each play on your programme booklet, and watch as the cast scrambles to perform it all within the time limit.

Dressed in signature colourful workout gear, the cast are more than ready to face the marathon performance that lies ahead of them, warming up the audience with a few ‘test rounds’ to ensure that everyone’s up to speed, gets all revved up, and ready for the show. As with previous editions, the usual paraphernalia are present – a big digital timer that ominously counts down the remaining time, and the numbers 1 to 31 (taken from a Chinese calendar) hung out on a laundry line, for cast members to grab before each sketch.

The number of topics addressed over the course of the sketches are wild and varied, from the short-lived Wordle obsession, to even the ludicrous McDonald’s Shake ‘N Dip dance. Not all the plays deal with current affairs, with successful plays such as ‘1-900-Nightconnect’ dealing with a particularly difficult customer on a phone sex hotline, or ‘WOTCA’, which passes commentary on Singapore (and Malaysia’s) sports scene. ‘How Was Your Day?” compares a politician’s job to his influencer wife’s, while the spate of COVID-related sketches are relatable enough to draw a few laughs.

There are times this edition of Fat Kids feels stretched for topics, such as the recurring reference to Raeesah Khan’s lies across at least two sketches (including a somewhat messy piece that parodies Encanto‘s ‘We Don’t Talk About Bruno’), or unusual, seemingly random sketches about Harry Potter and Snow White that come out of left field. Some sketches focus more on establishing a surreal world without taking it anywhere, such as countries reimagined as quarrelling kids in ‘World Kindergarten’, or ‘Gender Reveal’, which never quite ups the ante to the extreme possibilities a gender reveal video could amount to.

But Fat Kids more than makes up for it with enough sketches that deal with the biggest recent issues in unexpected ways. Highlights include ‘Tray Woes’, where a customer and enforcement officer quibble over the proper terminology for ‘returning’ or ‘clearing’ trays; “No More Mid-years” that raises the question of whether removing mid-year exams really does benefit students or not; ‘Chicken Run’, which pokes fun at panic buyers during the recent chicken export ban who insists on stocking up on fresh chicken; and “Fresh Prints”, which mixes Will Smith’s infamous Oscar slap with the ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ theme song (complete with catchy choreography from the entire cast). Of particular note this time around is attention paid to lighting design in just about every play, that helps spotlight cast members and dramatise each segment accordingly.

In all, Fat Kids Are Harder to Kidnap ® remains a mixed bag of sketches that just about any audience member can indulge in at some point during the show. There still remains a satisfying sense of success when the cast finish off that final, 31st play, and do a little victory lap that ends off the show on a high note. Most of all, Fat Kids Are Harder to Kidnap ® has once again captured the essence of Singapore news and pop culture of the last year, and remains a compact, entertaining romp, keeping us excited and looking forward to the next edition.

Fat Kids Are Harder to Kidnap ran from 11th to 13th August 2022 at Wild Rice @ Funan.

How Drama will also be taking Fat Kids Are Harder to Kidnap to the Oslo Fringe Festival from 24th to 25th August 2022. Tickets and more information available here

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