Theatre review: In 'Til The End Of The World, We’ll Meet In No Man’s Land', Singaporean singer Inch Chua delivers an environmental message with ASMR
Chill to the bone
"If climate change were a religion, it would incite fear, guilt and shame with little recourse to salvation", reflected Singaporean singer and interdisciplinary artist Inch Chua during her one-woman show 'Til The End Of The World, We'll Meet In No Man's Land' at TheatreWorks.
When she travelled to Antartica in March last year, she found herself confronting not only the continent's eclectic wildlife including the orange-beaked Gentoo penguin and the magnificent humpback whale but also the chilly environment's haunting sounds, worrisome politics (flags of 53 countries that have signed the Antartic treaty) and detrimental ecotourism (choking smell of diesel).
The multi-sensory theatrical production deconstructed her extraordinary experience in one of the world's most uninhabitable lands through her very first full-length script combined with recorded conversations, original compositions, mild scent diffusions (courtesy of local fragrance label Oo La Lab) and "in-your-ear" binaural technology.
It was this method of capturing and communicating sound that made all the difference to the production's slow-moving narrative and overall lullness. It allowed Inch to create ASMR-worthy sonic effects through her serene voice, petite body as well as ordinary household objects such as bubblewrap and a packet of rice to mimic tired footsteps trudging through dense snow or the howling and whistling of strong winds.
Seated on an elevated iceberg-like all-white stairway that called to mind the Minimalist creations of American artist Sol LeWitt, the audience peered down onto Inch who broke in and out of acoustic songs that reflected her existential realisations ("I am human/Can anybody hear me?"); her tender tones conveying the monumental impression while the strong reverb of her voice and guitar echoing the great vastness of the wintry land. Individual headphones for each member of the audience meant that the often looped and DIY three-dimensional stereo sensations were received with a sense of intimacy and vulnerability. More importantly, it offered a naturalistic perception of how an artist such as Inch deals with one of the most urgent issues of our times. For Inch, "the problem is me".