Dear Jay: Heartfelt and Thought-Provoking

By Sng Ler Jun

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Over the weekend, Blue Bean Production has launched and concluded her inaugural play.  “Dear Jay”, the brainchild of both Euginia Tan and Benedict Leong, explores the journey of how Leonard (Benedict Leong) struggles and copes with the death of his only friend Jay (Zenda Tan). “Dear Jay” weaves together a touchy theme, a taxing plot and a fresh cast of actors, turning it into a heartfelt and thought-provoking production.

When we talk about plays or stories with the theme of mental illness as one of its cores, we usually like to see them in a lighter shade. Mental illness is a touchy theme to dab on, probably because it is unseen yet so real. More often than not, we tend to see some form of closure and overcoming of a particular obstacle in such plays or stories. However, rather than exploring the process of conquering anxiety and death, “Dear Jayelaborates on the struggle of people living with mental illness.

The chemistry between Zenda and Benedict stood out superbly. Their portrayal of “Jay” and “Leonard” was raw and real. (That said, I could not help but wince when Zenda fell and inadvertently hit her head on the floor in the scene when she physically struggled with her inner demons. I was in the second row when that happened.) Leonard and his confessions of feelings to Jay, even after her death, made the struggle with his own crippling anxiety and loneliness intimate. While Jay’s concern for Leonard, before her eventual suicide, was heart-warming.

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Photo Credits: Bakchormeeboy.com

I thought it was brilliant to showcase Jay’s and Leonard’s inner demons, played by the ensemble (Vivienne Wong, Juliana Kassim Chan, Darrell Chan, Nicholas Bloodworth and Adam Amil Sharif), who continuously repeats words of negativity – shame, hatred, self-doubts etc. I felt the play could use more of that and reduce Leonard’s monologue. Too much of it made it hard to catch. What ultimately stuck in my head was “So, it is a disease to be young.

There were several other scenes that stood out as well.

One of it was the interaction between Jay and Leonard in the ward when Jay had returned from the councellor. Jay, who struggles with weight issues, had been asked to show how big she thought she was with a string. She later realised that she could “disappear” after Leonard measured it to be way smaller.

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Photo Credits: Popspoken.com

The other was the silence between Leonard and his father over the dining table. Leonard’s father’s outward show of affection by constantly picking food up for Leonard eventually builds up an invisible pressure within his son.

Overall, “Dear Jay” was not overtly pretentious, it is an honest production that speaks to the soul. Blue Bean Production did amazing for their inaugural play and I look forward to seeing more of her productions in time to come.

*Meanwhile, I thank a very special friend of mine – GILLIAN ONG – for having me and a friend over.

Go LOCAL, Support LOCAL – 3 Great Christmas Gift Ideas!

Christmas is all about the joy of giving (and receiving). I was rather privileged to be able to participate and win on several giveaways, so much so that I felt inclined to give back. With mere days left before the big day, I am quite sure many are frantically searching for the right gifts for the special person, close friends and family.

Questions like ‘What to get?’ or ‘Is this good?‘ or ‘How realistic is this?‘ will undoubtedly make finding the right present an arduous task.

With these in mind, I thought, why not make life easier and help narrow down options? Why not help address your physical needs, emotional needs and intellectual capacity? Why not go local, support local?

Here are my top three choices:

1) RUGGSAC 

RUGGSAC prides themselves in intricately fusing their ingenious way of problem-solving with their forte of creating bags befitting modern trends. Equipped with an amiable attitude, RUGGSAC offers not only excellent bag designs but also swift customer service.

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I am beyond overjoyed when I received the above Blue Haro laptop sleeve ($38). The series of laptop sleeves was released earlier in September and has gained quite some popularity, not only for its variety of designs but also for its versatility – From how I see it, it acts as both a laptop sleeve and a clutch. And did you know, the velcro used was specially developed? It does not scratch your laptop screens and does not catch thread or clothing.

Other popular models include Oregon Duffel ($29) and Chicago Midwood ($44.50).

We can never really run out of bags to use. And if a bag screams fashion, I’d say go for it. Meanwhile, I have successfully collaborated with RUGGSAC and as such quote “lerology” to receive a 10% discount!!!

View more at https://ruggsac.com/

2) Boufé

I like food. That is a fact. Nothing pleases me more emotionally and physically (yes, I address the emotional aspect first) whenever I am served good food – salads, mains, desserts, snacks etc. So when I received the Boufé Christmas Hamper ($39.90), I almost cried.

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Christmas Hamper @ $39.90
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No mass-produced, preservative-laden products here!

Located in Phoenix Park, Boufé (pronounced as Bou-fay, not buffet) Boutique Café, is the brainchild of Erick Wang, Sean Lee and Dennis Lim. Opened in early 2015, Boufé is one of the most relaxing and hipster place for one to indulge in great café delights.

With Christmas around the corner, Boufé offers not only a celebratory Christmas Hamper but also a special Christmas exclusive menu. While I was unable to savour everything during my visit there, I made it a point to order their Christmas dessert – Milky Way ($8.50++).

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Looks Great, doesn’t it?

Milky Way is a white chocolate yoghurt mousse, with honey genoise (an Italian sponge cake named after Genova), chocolate sable (the crispy biscuit base), calamansi jelly. This dish is not only aesthetically pleasing but also presents an out of this world explosion of sweet goodness and a slight hint of tanginess.

Boufé Christmas Hamper and Christmas Menu will only be available till the 30th December.

Check out more at http://www.boufesg.com/

3) Kappa Quartet by Daryl Qilin Yam

As an aspiring writer and host, I am inclined to surround myself with loads of reading materials. Perhaps it is for the love of language, perhaps it is for the sake of self-improvement, or perhaps it is a great pastime. Then again, nothing really beats having a good novel in lap and a hot coffee in hand.

What I am recommending is a title that I have been eyeing on for quite some time, and I finally managed to grab a copy of it at the Singapore Writers Festival early November.

Introducing: Kappa Quartet ($24.90)

Kappa Quartet

Synopsis: Kevin is a young man without a soul, holidaying in Tokyo; Mr Five, the enigmatic kappa, is the man he so happens to meet. Little does Kevin know that kappas—the river demons of Japanese folklore—desire nothing more than the souls of other humans. Set between Singapore and Japan, Kappa Quartet is split into eight discrete sections, tracing the rippling effects of this chance encounter across a host of other characters, connected and bound to one another in ways both strange and serendipitous. Together they ask one another: what does it mean to be in possession of something nobody has seen before?

There is something about Daryl’s work that intrigues me. The way he meticulously strings characters to characters from one chapter to another is itself a work of art filled with many discoveries. While one expects such a plot to be a complete mess, Daryl has proven himself to be quite the concise and skilful storyteller, capable of crystalline prose and enthralling content. It is no wonder that Kappa Quartet was longlisted for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2015.

Purchase this book here: http://shop.epigrambooks.sg/collections/fiction/products/kappa-quartet

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With all these said, I have a wonderful piece of news to tell you guys.

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One of my poetry is getting P.U.B.L.I.S.H.E.D!!!

I am beyond ecstatic. Stay tuned early next year for the publication! Meanwhile, the prowl for part-time jobs carries on!

Here’s from me to you,

MERRY CHRISTMAS & A GREAT NEW YEAR AHEAD!