Nikki Muller


Girls & Boys


Drama Centre Theatre, Wednesday (March 3)

When you have only one actress and one set, grabbing and holding an audience’s attention for 1½ hours can be a tall order.

But in Pangdemonium’s new theatre production Girls & Boys, Swiss-Filipina actress Nikki Muller does just that, taking viewers on an emotional rollercoaster of passionate highs and world-shattering lows.

The script, by British playwright Dennis Kelly, deals with gender-related issues. But it is the charming Muller who brings her character – an unnamed modern woman with lovable imperfections and a disarming sense of humour – to life.

(Related: Up Close with architect and artist Stefanie Hauger)

She exhibits a razor-sharp attention to detail. Under careful direction from Tracie Pang, she communicates nuances mostly through her voice, physicality and mannerisms, moving around a box-filled apartment set designed by Wai Yin Kwok.

In one recollection of being in a queue in Italy, Muller puts on so many accents and takes so many digs, it is hard to suppress a grin.

In another scene, where her character recalls playing games with her two children, her frequent head turns and shifting movements convincingly portray an accommodating mother struggling to handle a son and a daughter with widely differing personalities.

She breaks the fourth wall on many occasions, punctuating the narrative and further welcoming the audience into her world.

Her character is happily married and flourishing in a fulfilling career. She seems to have a perfect life – until something changes.

(Related: New National Museum show captures experiences of a pandemic year)

Even when handling her character’s unpleasant memories, Muller’s portrayal is never one-dimensional. Her sadness is tempered with a self-deprecating wit. When her character handles a bad situation calmly, she makes a self-referential jab about being “so cool”.

These layered emotions and dashes of humour allow her to flesh out this complex character’s joys and sorrows, and the audience hangs on to her every word.

Book it: Girls & Boys

Where: Drama Centre Theatre, Level 3 National Library Building, 100 Victoria Street

When: Until March 14, Wednesdays to Fridays, 6 and 9pm; Saturdays and Sunday, 2 and 6pm

Admission: $30 to $75 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to Sistic’s website)

Rating: Advisory 16 (mature content and coarse language), some viewers may find the language and theme disturbing. For more information, go to Pangdemonium’s website.

This article was originally published in The Straits Times.

(Related: Urban Sun: illumination that’s cleansing public spaces)