TANGO was commissioned by Pangdemonium as their very first staging of a piece of new Singapore writing. Inspired by true events from the blog “4 Relative Strangers” by James D. Williams, they are very excited to be telling this important story and producing the world premiere of this special play.
Happily married Singapore-born banker Kenneth and British teacher Liam are loving adoptive parents of 12-year-old Jayden, a boy saved from a broken home. Together they are learning to make life work as a family in idyllic suburban England.
When Kenneth returns to Singapore to care for his ailing father, an insidious incident triggers a butterfly effect that escalates into epic proportions. What unfolds is a passionate dance of rage and redemption, as individuals from all walks of life get pulled into the controversy: a fragile family begins to crumble, old wounds between a father and son rip open, a blossoming love affair is nipped in the bud, and an elderly woman sees her simple world-view turned inside out. And in the eye of this storm is young Jayden, learning the hard way about the true meaning of “family values”.
Acclaimed Singaporean playwright Joel Tan (The Way We Go, Mosaic, Cafe) has created a modern tale that asks urgent and provocative questions about love, acceptance, compassion, tradition, and the infuriating complexities of family. A 21st century fable that gives us an idea of where Singapore fits into the 21st century world, TANGO is timely and topical, poignant and profound, hilarious and heart-wrenching. And above all, humane.
“In ambition and execution, TANGO is a mesmeric showcase of world-class talent. If you care about being truly human, you would do well to watch it...Joel Tan balances the drama beautifully in a pithy, pacy and elegant script, which is all the more persuasive because he takes digs, not stabs, at the many dilemmas between those who live as they please and others who are not pleased at how they live.
He achieves such balance by showing both sides to every predicament, tenderly stripping away layer upon layer of hypocrisy while leaving hard truths that stick in the craw...Fresh from her triumph as Best Director at this year's Life Theatre Awards, Tracie Pang once again proves how much magic her taut, intuitive trusting direction yields.
Of course, it helps that everyone in her cast not only brings her his best game, but also surpasses himself with a disarmingly natural and nuanced performance…their excellence is matched by the creative team.”
“TANGO could have checked off ‘balanced’ and ‘art as advocacy’ and been justifiably pleased with itself. For the audience, watching the fine cast and the taut direction would have been an exercise in solidarity and reassurance. Preaching to the choir is easy. Instead, TANGO aims for something riskier, rarer – implicating its audience.
Prejudice and moral judgement are central themes. Joel Tan’s script went beyond the requirements of counter-narratives by developing characters that felt real, not mouthpieces for the greater good.
TANGO evades the curse of the earnest, the blight of the politically correct, the tedious predictability of the social justice warrior (and) holds a mirror up, not only to society at large, but to the socially liberal, inclusive, highly engaged demographic that would have been drawn to this production.”
“TANGO’s success as an original script hopefully leads to even more great original works from Pangdemonium, who have almost certainly cemented their position as one of, if not the most consistently high-performing theatre companies in Singapore, producing one emotionally charged piece after another.
TANGO is an urgent call to break preconceived notions of homosexuality and the ‘ideal family’, replacing conservative bigotry and hate with mutual respect and understanding for a new set of values that may differ from tradition, but are nonetheless, fully deserving of equal love and acceptance.
Whether you’re gay or straight, a youth or adult, so much of TANGO is felt on a real, relatable level, and touches on issues that affect not just the LGBT community, but every human being.”
“While TANGO explores and encourages discussions of LGBTQ issues in Singapore, the play is essentially about family.Rather than polarising caricatures, the characters that Tan crafted are ones that you can recognise. You cannot help but be drawn into the narrative. The masterful storytelling is helped by Tracie Pang’s direction.
TANGO is full of life and heart, and it reminds us to think about and care for people, whatever their beliefs.”
“Earnest, heartfelt drama, methodical and unassuming in its execution, but rich in its impact…Joel Tan’s balanced script (and) meticulous depiction of white- and blue-collar characters, we are made to feel for all aggrieved parties…
Diving headlong into Singapore’s ongoing culture wars with TANGO, it signals a firm direction towards making theatre that tackles topical issues closer to home.”
“Pangdemonium's TANGO is an honest, complex, and thought-provoking play that holds a mirror up to Singapore society and challenges us to reflect on our "moral values" and what it means to be a “family".”
“Whether you identify as gay, straight, or simply a human being, you'll empathise with the struggles in each of the characters. Ultimately, no matter the orientation, Tan writes truths we already know, but need someone else to show us: That kindness, love, understanding and acceptance are what we seek within our families and communities.”
“Playwright Joel Tan gives us a sensitive and incredibly measured portrait of these characters that avoids neat caricature. His characters are flawed and deeply human...Tango is one of the most important works of Singapore theatre to emerge this year and Pangdemonium has crafted a truly inspiring production that is thoughtful, intelligent, urgent and empathetic - a reminder that the personal is, always and inevitably, political.”
Koh Boon Pin
Lim Kay Siu
Lok Meng Chue
Drama Centre Theatre
19 May - 4 Jun 2017
Power To The People
“Please go and watch TANGO. It is truly absolutely brilliant. I know I gush about them every single time but can't get over how consistently good Pangdemonium are every single time. Perfect staging, perfect direction, pitch perfect acting and consistently thought provoking, challenging, content. It's theatre that I never dared to hope that we would have, but we do!!! And I'm just sitting in the bus on the way home trying not cry because I'm so proud.
These guys are everything that is beautiful and good about Singapore and their existence makes me dare to hope. EVERYBODY should watch this.”
“Pangdemonium and Joel Tan approached this controversial topic with the perfect balance of sensitivity and frankness. I'm so glad that this play brings about an increased awareness of LGBT rights and would get more people talking about such blanketed issues, especially in our increasingly stratified society where understanding and compassion are necessary for everyone to co-exist!! I love how they didn't patronize the non-accepting, but instead, chose to show how both sides are essentially human despite our differences in beliefs, creating more peaceful grounds for everyone to express their views and for greater understanding.
I highly recommend this incredibly relevant and poignant play.”
“This was a wonderful piece of work by Pangdemonium and Joel Tan. It was a treat to my soul to watch a piece of theatre that's conceptualised and executed with such care and empathy. TANGO is beautifully written, very importantly an original and locally inspired story, with great social relevance, wonderfully executed with just enough ethos, humour and truth.
Congratulations to everyone in TANGO.”
“Pangdemonium's first local play crosses identities, class, political spectrums, ages, family types. Brilliant use of ensemble and plot to discuss activism and social media engagement.
Poignant script, gorgeous staging and acting!”
“I haven't watched a play that has moved me to the core as much as TANGO by Pangdemonium. Joel Tan’s masterful writing that takes no sides, and just puts the characters' messy realities at the fore. What could have been just the mundane domestic tensions of a marginalised group become essential, immediate and relevant.
Every plot event feels scarily plausible, because they are firmly rooted in the realities of today's polarised where cultural mis-steps can lead to an all out witch-hunt; where communities can be galvanised because "We Are Against" someone else; where a penguin storybook can divide a nation.
Thank you Tracie and Adrian for staging this important piece. It needs a longer run, or a revival ASAP!”
“Just wanted to say how amazing TANGO really really was and how affected my friends and I were after the play ended. Stories like these really deserve more attention, especially in Singapore.
My friend brought her mum, and I would like you to know that it’s changed her mum’s perspective on so many things!”
“I respect a theatre company that's willing to take a risk on a local writer and support his vision. My friends and I were moved by the beauty of the script and the sadness of this reality. The LGBTQ community has a voice in this play and we hear it loud & clear.
Thank you Pangdemonium for this brave production.”
“Watched Tango tonight and WOW!!! Whilst we are not a 'homosexual' family, there is so much I can relate to as an unwed mom for 15 years in a Singapore/ Asian culture - the shame; being kicked out of the house; Asian values etc...
I will never expect anyone to understand what discrimination from society feels like, but when my son signed AWARE's petition for housing for single parents post Tango production, I know he appreciates the challenges we have grown thru together. Great job Pangdemonium!”
“What a treat it was to watch such magic unfold on stage at Pangdemonium's TANGO! I was humbly reminded about the true power of theatre, as I laughed & cried with the amazing cast who truly brought this poignant story to life, set against a clever & beautiful set.
Tango reminded me how lucky I am to be surrounded by friends & family who love & support me unconditionally. Unfortunately not everybody in the LGBTQ community has had the same privilege. It is my hope that productions like TANGO will bring about more acceptance.
Thank you, Joel Tan, for telling our story honestly & Tracie Pang & Adrian Pang, for always being friends of the community!”
“Pangdemonium's TANGO is all about love and family in all forms - some in ways that are socially accepted, and some that might not be yet. I'm in awe of how they are constantly pushing the boundaries of these "sensitive issues”, forcing us to take a hard look at what we deem to be societal norms, and inspiring conversations that need to be happening in our society.
A brilliant effort for their first original play and one we would highly recommend!”