Review- Assassins- Hong Kong Singers and Perilous Mouths


By: Cindy Kim


A joint production between Perilous Mouths Entertainment and the Hong Kong Singers brings us a production of Assassins directed by Clare Stearns and Forrest Morr, a musical by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman about the nine men and women who have attempted presidential assassination. 


A deeply political show, as expected for an exploration of various presidential assassins’ motives, it's not only about the two political parties or the civil war; it’s also about the American Dream. I can’t say that historical American politics or the validity of the American Dream would garner much interest for a Hong Kong audience but it’s still a highly skillful and enjoyable production that comes highly recommended.


The structural skeleton of the set was very functional, but it was what they did with the rest of it - flashing back-lit panels depicting the famous targets of assassination, with a sign inviting people to “Shoot a president! Win a prize!” like a murderous, jolly carnival game - which set the tone for the rest of the evening. That being said, it is never overly irreverential but certainly has a sense of fun. 


Throughout the entire production, there is an almost tangible sense of future and past intertwining with no regard for chronology. The eclectic mix of costumes are scattered from all over American history, very well-selected and put together. Seeing a waistcoat and pocket watch on-stage at the same time as a blouse and a pair of jeans is a novelty nonchalantly pulled-off. I was also very impressed by the band (Forrest Morr, Ronald Cheung and Chan Wai Hong) and how they managed to effectively accommodate almost two entire centuries of popular music.


The cast were all fantastically suited to their roles, and played off the character interaction chemistry flawlessly, particularly between Lynette Fromme (Natalie Lund) and Sara Jane Moore (Catherine Youngs). On the other hand Samuel Byck, as played by Micheal Rogers, had a difficult solo scene with a tape recorder but didn’t lack passion and played it chillingly. Guiseppe Zangara’s strong, confident accent must also be acknowledged, since accents can often go so wrong. Major props to the ensemble, who must have played the role of excited crowd members about to meet the president a dozen times, but skillfully managed to avoid any notice of repetition. 


On a slightly less relevant note, but personally important all the same, this production has the most helpful programme I have ever had the privilege to hold. The star-spangled red, white and blue fold-out somehow manages to be aesthetically pleasing and invoke that old-timey feel before even entering the theatre. As someone who was completely unaware of any presidential assassination attempts other than that on President Lincoln, I am extraordinarily lucky that Vanessa Lee had the good foresight to include these short biographical excerpts that are terribly dry to read on paper but provide vital context to the adaptations in which the delight of this performance lies.


In terms of improvement, I could only point out several botched lines, albeit admirably recovered from, and the inconsistent singing volumes of the cast at times. Otherwise, an excellent production!

Assassins is playing at the HK Rep Blackbox through Sunday. For more information, click here. 

Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 3.1


No comment at the moment.

Post New Comment