Three hours before Shane Mardjuki's performance in Hello Goodbye, I sneaked in a quick chat with the lead actor. The 36-year-old plays Alex, one half of a couple whose relationship is the main subject for the romantic comedy, staged by the Singapore Repertory Theatre.
Mardjuki turned up in a Stepbrothers tee when we met backstage. His comedic awkwardness is a positively endearing one to watch, making him the ideal choice to play Alex, a laid-back man whose neurosis kicks in when dealing with his personal stash of vintage toys and collectibles. A play about modern love that sees a couple in two stages of their relationship —its courtship and impending breakup — Hello Goodbye questions what happens after happily ever after.
Related story: Theatre Review: Hello Goodbye
Prior to this, the now-married man and father of one has starred in television shows such as Eye for a Guy and Hot Guys Who Cook, as well literary epics such as Twelfth Night. Some of us at Buro could sure use some advice, and who better to consult than Mardjuki.
On what he's guilty of in his relationship:
"In a relationship, Alex doesn't put as much attention as he should on his other half and does his own thing. Which I think is what many men do — and I do as well. It's important to not take each other for granted and to communicate. This happens in the play, and I think happens in relationships."
On hobbies vs. relationships:
"In my own relationship, I have to constantly remind myself that I should focus more attention and time. I have a hobby and too much of my free time goes into that. I like to do jujitsu, which is just two men hugging and rolling around on the ground all the time."
On communicating in relationships:
"You think you've communicated your message across, like 'I need more of this from you'. But the other person hasn't really heard it. You (might) like attention in one way, and the other person feels like he or she has already given it to you — but you don't (receive it), and you carry on and have a fight five years later. A lof of things are alluded but don't get across. Especially if you're communicating with a man, you need to be crystal clear."
On recognising how differently people show love:
"It's such a cheesy thing to say, but people show love in very different ways. If she likes love shown in a particular way, but he shows it in a different way, then they don't meet in the middle."
On what happens after happily ever after:
"It's like a car: Reservice, reservice, reservice, all the time. A younger Shane believed you can meet someone, then 24 hours later you fall in love and get married — like in The Brothers McMullen. But then now, I'm older, and the cynical Shane believes you can do that, but you have to work on it. You really have to do the maintenance — men especially."
On advice for his 16-month-old daughter Ellie:
"Stay away from boys, Ellie. Stay away from boys until you're 42, or until the man is 42. Wait till the man is old — young men are stupid. The thing about her is that she waves to everyone. And I'm thinking, 'This is not good, she's going to run away with a stranger.' She takes after her mom, who's very friendly."
On introverts who don't enjoy small talk:
"Don't go out. Stay at home. Nurse one drink by the bar and stare at the wall."
On swiping right:
"I think social media is for the better, because you get to meet people you won't necessarily meet otherwise. I have friends who have met other people through swiping right. I also have friends who hate it and are unsuccessful, but then I look at their profile and I can see why. They have the worst photos in the world."
Hello Goodbye runs from now till 26 September at DBS Arts Centre - Home of SRT. Tickets here.