Swimming with Sharks by Pangdemonium – A Review

By Yeoh Lai Lin

With a deliberately cheeky disclaimer of "approximately 10 sh*ts and 37 f***s", you know you are in for a night of quality drama.  Swimming with Sharks tells a riveting tale revealing the dark and dirty office politics going on behind the glamorous and romantic world of Hollywood film studios. Guy (played by George Young), an earnest wide-eyed film writer hopeful enters Keystone Productions as assistant to the boss from hell, Buddy Ackerman (played by Adrian Pang) in hope of gaining experience in the business. He crosses paths with Dawn Lockhart (played by Janice Koh) and unwittingly gets tangled in a world of malice, lies and deceit. A psychological thriller with a gripping plot and an unbelievably shocking twist that is guaranteed to leave the audience stunned, this play reveals to the darker side of human nature while capturing the essence of the rough and tumble of corporate office politics which we may all very well find a tad familiar… 

Based on the 1994 version of the film starring Kevin Spacey, Swimming with Sharks was adapted for the stage by Michael Lesslie and premiered at the West End in London in 2007. In light of their pledge to embark on "ass-kicking adventures in theatre", Pangdemonium Productions decided to stage the Singapore Premier of the play, held at the Drama Centre Theatre.

Pangdemonium had decided to stay faithful to the original setting and context of the story being set in Hollywood and the actors all did a fairly good job of maintaining their American accents throughout the play. Swimming with Sharks may reveal a warped story but the characters grow on the audience as the play progresses are what make it believable. Characterization proved well thought out with the three main characters being very well developed and rehearsed. Adrian Pang was an excellent Buddy Ackerman (let us hope he is not as bad a boss as artistic director of Pangdemonium), putting on a stubbornly energetic performance throughout the play. George Young also gave a sterling performance as Guy and followed through with the transition of his character from a wide-eyed hopeful to a cynical, hardened character rather impressively.  And of course, lovely NMP Janice Koh gave a commendable performance as the sophisticated Dawn Lockhart. Perhaps politics has prepared her well. The show was also very well coloured in by entertaining Hollywood stereotypes such as the veteran producer who wants to leave a legacy in film making (Cyrus Miles, played by Daniel Jenkins) and the bimbo who would sleep her way to success (Mitzy, played by Melissa Faith Yeo).

The set was creative but also functional and cleverly designed and the use of multimedia proved helpful not just in providing smooth transitions between scenes but also in reiterating larger themes of which the play was concerned. Overall, everything from the sound to the set seemed very well polished, providing a wonderful, wholesome theatrical experience. But beware! This is an adult play with mature themes. Besides the very many expletives, (of course) be prepared for a lot of sex and violence. Take a dip if you dare!

Catch Swimming with Sharks

20th September – 2nd October 2012 at the Drama Centre Theatre.

Tickets on sale now at SISTIC.

SISTIC Hotline 6348 5555