'The Pillowman' stars Shane Mardjuki, Daniel Jenkins and Adrian Pang
Photos: Tammi Tan, Pangdemonium
After being bombarded with countless requests to bring thriller The Pillowman back to the Singapore stage, Pangdemonium is finally making fans’ dreams come true – exactly 10 years later.
Set to run from February 24 to March 12 at the Victoria Theatre, Martin McDonagh’s award-winning play will have three of its original lead actors, Adrian Pang, Daniel Jenkins and Shane Mardjuki, returning to their roles – although, as we learned during our interview with the trio on Monday (Feb 6), there was some “serious internal consideration” to do some swapping.
“We thought of playing around with the roles but oh, I want to slip into my old pyjamas – if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” said Adrian, as Daniel concurred, “As interesting as it would’ve been, it would’ve been a bit off!”
In The Pillowman, Daniel plays Katurian, a writer who is being questioned by detectives for his gruesome short stories that bear resemblances to a series of real-life child murders. Adrian and Shane play his interrogators Tupolski and Ariel respectively, while Andy Tear, who was Katurian’s father in the previous rendition, now takes on the part as his brother Michal.
Andy Tear, Adrian Pang, Shane Mardjuki, Daniel Jenkins
While the heart of the play will remain the same as its 2007 version, audiences can also look forward to a slight revamp, such as a “radically transformed” set and a level of violence that’s gotten “a little bolder”. Smoking restrictions that previously weren’t in place have also forced them to find alternative ways to take on a scene.
“Last time, a cigarette was instrumental as part of Katurian’s torture, but because smoking is no longer allowed on stage, we’ve had to find other clever ways to inflict pain,” shared Adrian with a grin, refraining from revealing any more salacious details.
Whether you’re a curious newcomer to the show or one of those who enthusiastically lobbied for its comeback, that teaser alone should get you excited to see what these storytellers have up their sleeves. Read on for more from our interview!
'The Pillowman' stars Daniel Jenkins, Shane Mardjuki and Adrian Pang
Toggle: Was it a deliberate decision to re-stage The Pillowman exactly 10 years later? Why not sooner?
Adrian: Since we started Pangdemonium, we’ve been requested to re-stage The Pillowman over and over and over again, but we kept resisting because we wanted to do other stuff. But about a year and a half ago when we were planning for the season, we realised it would be its 10th anniversary, so we thought, why not?
Does preparing for The Pillowman again after so many years feel different in any way?
Adrian: I’m certainly finding new nuances and dimensions, and I think we’re finding new aspects of our characters and the stories.
Daniel: We find ourselves asking questions that never came up before.
Do you feel added pressure to live up to the high expectations and success of the 2007 show?
Daniel: Not any more than any other production that you want to do well.
Adrian: I guess there’s always some measure of expectation, but we just want to do it justice and give the best version that we can.
How are the rehearsals going so far?
Adrian: For a play that deals with child murder and torture, it’s been surprisingly fun! Put these two (gestures to Daniel and Shane) within two metres of each other and chances are, in the middle of these really intense scene with lines like, “How did you kill this child?”, they’ll start giggling like little girls.
Shane: That may or may not happen on stage.
Daniel: The play is a funny one with a dark subject, and to alleviate some of that angst, we tend to fool around a bit, of course not in a way that stops the work.
Adrian: The writing is so brilliant that it will tickle you in the most unexpected way, and hopefully that’s what translates to the audience, that in spite of how horrific things are, they can still find humour.
How have you, as actors, changed since first staging The Pillowman in 2007?
Daniel: Now that we’re older, we’re looking at it at a slightly different angle.
Shane: It’s sort of a test to see if I’ve really matured, but in some ways I discovered I haven’t. (laughs). And every time I work with Pangdemonium, I have a child. [Ed’s note: Shane welcomed his second child last week, and his oldest daughter was born during his first project with Pangdemonium in 2014.]
Adrian: When we did The Pillowman the first time, I don’t think I was in a very good place, but now I feel good. Life’s never going to be perfect but I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
As fathers, how does it feel like participating in a play that deals so explicitly with child murders?
Daniel: Being a father definitely lends more weight to it. There are funny bits as well but the weightier subject matter does hit home more.
Adrian: One of the stories Katurian tells highlights the fact that how you nurture your kids will determine how they grow up to be. It’s quite sobering, if you want to read more into it, besides just being a funny play about child abuse.
Your children are all still quite young. Would you let them watch you in such a dark role?
Daniel: My kids (13-year-old Dylan and 9-year-old Lily) would very much like to, but they’re not old enough. My daughter keeps offering to help me with my lines but I can’t let her! But the other night she asked me to tell her a story, and I told her the least horrific story from The Pillowman, called The Little Green Pig.
Adrian: I do remember telling (my boys) that story because it’s the only one you can tell! But I’m a terrible dad, because my sons (17-year-old Zachary and 16-year-old Xander) have seen almost every single thing we’ve done, so they’ve been exposed to a lot.
The Pillowman runs from February 24 to March 12 at the Victoria Theatre. Tickets, priced from $30 to $75 (excluding booking fees), are available on SISTIC.
Continued on next page: Find out how to win tickets to a showing of The Pillowman!
Toggle is giving away pairs of Category 2 tickets (each ticket worth $55) to a showing of The Pillowman, courtesy of Pangdemonium Theatre Company Ltd.
Date: Mar 1, 2017 (Wednesday)
Venue: Victoria Theatre
For your chance to win, simply answer the following question. Entries with the correct answers will be picked at random to win.
Question: Name three characters from The Pillowman and the actors who play them.
Email your answer together with your name, NRIC, residential address, email address and contact number to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject ‘Toggle The Pillowman’
Contest ends Feb 17 and winners will be notified via email. *Terms and conditions apply.
* Terms and Conditions
- The contest is open to Singapore residents only.
- Entries submitted after the deadline will not be entertained.
- Toggle reserves the right to pick final winners. No correspondence will be entertained.
- Entry submission forms that are incomplete will be disqualified.
- Previous week's winners will not be qualified to win.
- You can submit unlimited entries, but each family is entitled to win only once. Same contact address will be considered as the same family.
- Any proof-of-entry printouts cannot be used as proof that Toggle has received your submission.
- Toggle reserves the right to change the terms and conditions of the contest without prior notice.
- Winners will be informed via email/phone call from which details of prize collection will be stated.
- Prizes not collected by the given date will be considered null and void.
- Prizes are non-transferable and non-exchangeable for cash.
- By entering the contest, you agree to be informed of any future promotion related to Toggle.