A Tale: Romeo & Juliet by Kenneth Branagh broadcasted from The Garrick

Never have I ever read the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare.

As I take a step forward, head bowed, sheepish and very much discomfited, I am somewhat relieved by the truth that, perhaps, many of my contemporaries have not themselves read such a fine and tragic literary piece. From the throes of the 1968 classic, the Baz Luhrmann adaptation that sent our inner 90’s reeling, to the ’13 adaptation I still have yet to see, I honour the phrase of “star-crossed lovers” and such tragedy of love in reference of everyday.

But to re-tell the story in under a minute, of the feuding Montagues and Capulets, Romeo and Juliet, love, and eventual death, where is thy sting? It is a a plot eternal, thickened by our attention to love, oh love.

Upon announcement that Kenneth Branagh will be adapting said play at The Garrick Theatre in London with two stars we know as fair Cinderella and her Charming prince – Lily James and Richard Madden were names acquainted with panache – I was indescribably giddy.

We begin the story with my thunderous applause and hands clutched to mine heart after experiencing Kenneth Branagh’s The Winter’s Tale on the eve of a summery February. Broadcasted live on cinema screens, it was my first foray into the genre. I have only ever dreamed of such amalgamation, dear friends, so imagine my heart skipping a beat when the lights dimmed to a hush and we were treated to a birds-eye view of the buzzing theatre waiting for the opening act. I laughed and merried away, Judi Dench and Branagh himself exploding in fine performances; a cast that danced and gambolled, the set alive with their stomping and dramatics. I knew, Kenneth Branagh will not disappoint in this second Shakespearean adaptation.

In a fashion closer to cinema, the play begins with teenagers in interview who talked of love at first sight, parental rules, wisdom they could bestow to their progenitors, and a little harmless spoiling of the play. Though this preamble was unexpected, it was not unpleasant either. And soon, we are buzzing as The Garrick from above looks alive. The thrill stings your fingertips.

As the pandemonium hushed and Branagh makes a small announcement of Richard Madden’s unfortunate ankle, I hear my friend breathe a huge sigh as the show will go on… and Madden will be our dear Romeo. I must note: Branagh and co-director Rob Ashford decided to broadcast the film in black and white and 16:9 frame as a nod to their own experiences with the play: muted but stark, simmering passions, and familial vendettas in heat, folded and stroked. I accuse them for such mastery over the art.

There is a lone jive note as the curtain opens and Christopher Oram’s set is crowded by the anonymous, lighted by Howard Hudson, and the monochromatic ode captured beautifully by director Benjamin Caron. The high-contrast relieves you from the challenge of identifying the where’s who. Instead, you are pushed to focus on who has the upper beat (often Jacobi’s Mercutio whenever he is on scene) and it was delightfully fun as Caron aids you in mid-shot framing and transitions to such beats.

Madden was the perfect Romeo with his sleeves rolled up to his elbows and a lock of curls resting just above his brow. He feels the magic of love in those boyish smiles and moments where he faltered in confidence. You see him almost like a Swashbuckler but he is complemented by the La Dolce Vita of this adaptation. He was aggrieved, perfectly situated, and robust. He controlled his scene – his dominion.

Lily James was a standout Juliet. The balcony chug was as teenaged as it is unexpected. She perfected the role of a young maiden pining, unsure but also sure, fighting against parental expectations and the niceties of Paris (who really was he?) whose intentions we will never really know. She was golden, a contrast, to the direness of such love.

What I admired about this play the most was the ensemble. The casting was impeccable with Derek Jacobi at the helm but both Capulets & Montagues performed in shoes stained with discord. I applaud above all Meera Syal (The Nurse) and Michael Rouse (Lord Capulet) for opening up the play to a less narrow perspective – there is more to Romeo and Juliet than just Romeo and Juliet. Kathryn Wilder (Peter) was jovial and fun, and Derek Jacobi as Mercutio, a wizened addition to Madden’s Romeo and Hirst’s Benvolio (the other best friend). The provocative ragtime soundtrack blends in with each scene transition, and by heavens those columns! No sooner do you eventually catch on…the entire set was built like a tomb. A foreshadowing that haunts you every time Valentine’s Friar Laurence is disturbed in prayer by our spirited gli amanti.

Sure, it was no tragicomedy that left you breathless like The Winter’s Tale, enamored by the spirited, happy love of Florizel and Perdita and the spat between two persons instead of two families. But Romeo and Juliet was beautiful in its own way. I understand a bit more as to why Romeo and fair Juliet grasped at happiness no matter the cost. I appreciated that violence is often a byproduct of more than hate, but a refusal to admit wrong. And clearly, such love is, of course, not to be placed on a standard or pedestal, but it is love nonetheless. Though tragic it may be.

Kenneth Branagh never ceases to amaze me. He examines and analyses stories like how we did back in our English classes. And since he succeeds in a lauded fashion, you are moved to believe (and accept) that you also can appreciate stories and enquire; to interpret and embellish, and adore and experience without judgment.

Thank you, to the team for the live-action and to the team for the broadcast. You have all changed my life more than you will ever know.

Here’s to more screenings and viewing and preferably, at The Garrick itself!

The Village Idiot, The Steam Train and some potential time-travelling

Today’s magical number consisted of three steaming pirouettes, in motion, alongside the chug chug of an age-old train. There were three ballerinas: one in green, like the other two carnation’s favourite spell of trees up high, down low, and all, all around.

Someone gulped down a Dirty Hippie cup of coffee (chai tea with espresso) while the others broke bread, poached egg, and sampled some dusted sourdough courtesy of every Australian fairy.

My brother once told me that I was born in the wrong era. And when I’m all aboard a steam train of a period before my grandmother, perched up on the ledge, my arms around the bars, cool breeze on my face, excited about every sound the train makes before its departure, I really do feel like I am made for a different era. And I so badly want to have spent even a few years of my life in the 30’s where boys wear top hats and were called men. But I’m mostly for the steam train sound of my childhood: little people lined up in a row, someone pulls on the vanishing train horn, I make the loud noise and altogether now! – choochoo chuggachuggachuggachuggachugga choochoo.

Never forget. Especially for someone who’s never actually been on an actual steam train.

I remotely thought about time-travelling. But who’s got the time nowadays, am I right?

At The Village Idiot Cafe, I pondered many things to do with dreams. Mostly because there were dreamcatchers hanging over our table and it felt like the perfect moment to just list them out. I was distracted by boisterous laughter from two friends, the hissing of the coffee machine, and the chirpy camaraderie between the hired hands. They talked to do with something grungy and credibly normal you cannot help but tune the rest out and slouch on the couch.

And on the way back, after a cuppa choc and bird attacks, I was beginning to be lulled to sleep and I frighteningly wanted to have been because how romantic is it? To sleep on a chugging steam train and you wake up, rub your eyes, and it is 1891, there is a striped circus in your neighbourhood with a huge fanfare, caramel popcorn and top hats!

Hey… that’s a pretty cool basis of the beginning of story ain’t it? I was gonna re-watch some favourite episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine but I may just start writing a story instead. Don’t worry, the protagonist’s name won’t be Bill.

Books to read, Internships, Film scripts and Camp NaNoWriMo?!

I know you will all keep me accountable somehow, one way or another, so here are some things I’d like to accomplish in the next couple of weeks in regards to self-productivity and growth (oh please):

  • Write a review for The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I first read this book many years ago and I remember being beguiled and then nothing else. Now, I am a captive again so…
    Expect a review by July 16.
  • Read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – because.
  • Light-reading Dante’s Inferno in preparation for the IQ Olympics my brain holds every mid-semester break like a birthday surprise.
  • Write a full short-film script for Der Schmerz
  • Create a tag for my 2016 Screen Futures Summit and Youth Media Festival internship where I know you will all follow me there – I’ll be chirpy, promise.
  • Create an outline for my content curation/production project that’s been begging to be Evernoted.
  • Find out who my cabin buddies are at Camp NaNoWriMo and pity-cry for my plan-less demise before calming tea. Look:
    Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 9.27.57 PM

    • It even emboldened the 15 days like I’m not already nervous-sweating.
  • Figure out my abundant use of hyphenated words. I’m sounding like a newspeak editor.


a woman’s éclat, writing scenario

Written at a time I was at a Myer store figuring out whether Lady Gaga’s black liquid Fame was poison. I’ve always wanted to be Mithridates.

Scene: Black tie, event of the century, electric

1st P.O.V (fem)

I wanted to vomit it out. All of it. That suffering swallow of black mollusk tartare, sweetened and honeyed, a spoon of toxic substance. But everyone was looking at me with their epicurean eyes, so, I swallowed. Enough to make me angry at myself, and enough to fill my glass with wine so red, so enticing, it’s blood on my lips. And I saw his smug look, not too far away, and I straightened. Perhaps I could gouge his eyes out instead. 

3rd P.O.V.
It was as black as the polish on her feet. She had left them all black while her fingernails wore a French. Was that vile cuisine French? Please no, she beseeched whomever could hear the dying grumble of her insides. Looking around her, feeling the criticism through their sequinned dresses and black formals, she straightened up. She made sure to do it in an effortless flourish, like calligraphy on parchment. But those eyes. The French one, this one she was sure of. So smug, so conceited, so attractive that it was, in all accounts, heinous. She left a smudge of lipstick on the rim of her glass. Her liquid saviour. She’s going to have to poison him with it.

3rd P.O.V. (male)
It’s her pride, he concluded finally, noticing the discreet glares of those who milled in close proximity of her dying insides. She reigned it in quite effortlessly, really, and he was half impressed. Well, more than really, if he was being generous. He thought perhaps she would run from the establishment in a flurry of red silk hugging every delectable curve… she had done that once. She didn’t though, he guessed that too. Even better, she’s walking towards him and so he set his glass down. Finally, we begin.

feature image c/o

Re-establishment v.2016

I am running on a 6-month-away-from-home jetlag but I think I’m doing quite fine…slightly. I wrote about 33 resolutions this year and half of them are pretty much goals but they are kind of bracketed under the same umbrella of motivation and keeping it real so let me just add some more to push myself harder than an ob/gyn would a labouring mama sita.

  1. Paper Quirks refurbishment – fresh-faced, graduating year aesthetic whatever that may be. It’ll probably involve corns or something yellow.
  2. Blog.489382309 – a final project for myself. I’ve got some filmic studying to do so I am willing to bore you all, ghosties, with my learning progress there. You may catch some creations or two so don’t hold thy breath.

It’s clearly only two more additions to the 33 so it isn’t too bad. My creative portfolio is running on a bit of a low since I am either dissatisfied by the ones I’ve already made or I’m just too shy to behold them to others. I’m pulling an American here by calling myself a senior and ain’t nobody got time fo’ that. It’s hustling time and I am ready to exert the effort needed to one day work under Kathleen Kennedy because Star Wars is where it is millenium falcon at.

Catch me in a few,


Ze brekky club – greasers, judds and the otp

This is for Tash and Meg, they love a good greaser.

The Breakfast Club was lent to me because as I was trying to circumnavigate the world of cult films, I ended up only liking the idea of it (pretentious, I know) and still I sang “Don’t youuuuuu forget about meeee” the Pitch Perfect and I HAVE NO IDEA WHY I WANT TO CRY.

But now I do, when I learn that the scene where they all sit around, discussing their destructive home-lives while the camera pans around them like how your typical 80’s film was ad freakin libbed. Can I not die until I have done this as a future filmmaker?

And then Judd Nelson, who I mistake for Judd Apatow for a simple namesake, and his character Bender; a true greaser, part of the gang, Outsiders, the ex-convict you want to beautifully punch in the face with a happiness spell. (Let’s face it, geeks, you all want to wingardium leviosa his fine booty in your non-siliconed boobaciousness *cough chest cough*). He’s like a spellbound loon and he makes the breakfast in the Breakfast Club.

Andy’s not a sight for sore eyes either if you like your short studs who fall for the gorgeous one whose soul was mistaken to be as black as their previous eyeliner. She just needed the prince and they clicked and I cried seeing them happy, okay, don’t judge meh!

And Bryan’s a sad case of a boy you want to wrap in a towel and suffocate under a bunch of pillows. Make him forget about pressure, make him see beauty, make him see love. Stop telling me he won’t finish a Rubiks cube in less than 5.95 seconds.

The pretty, popular one’s someone you’d like to caption cliché but she was sort of gassy and superfluous and she stuck in with the rest of them quite timidly and I liked it. She fit in but she didn’t, but she did. I saw the tension and the side-eyes. I predicted it but she didn’t quite deliver. I OTP sporty and nail-biter than these two.

In conclusion, I wanted to drown in a pool of their tears, soak it up with a sponge, drain in a bucket and pour out to moisten the plants of their future children’s veggie patches. It’s the #1 high school film in 2006 for a reason.

ps. The iconic Bender punch in the air ain’t even romantic, ladies (and Becca). But I’ll give you a spud for trying.

8 sandwiches out of 10. Spread the word!

Everything I thought it would be

It is everything I thought it would be. The music, the lights, the perspiration and slobber, food trucks lined up (don’t walk behind those things) and wasted potentials and inhibitions served free. It’s a wave upon a bigger wave, and when your house is built on sand, it will truly and awfully, fade away.

There are small carrions left-over after. Always. You find it littered on the grass: a cigarette butt, torn cupcake wrapper, the curve of a behind on a supposed to be inflated balloon screen. There was never an if, but a when, in every single generation.

I would ask myself questions about righteousness and poor choices a disregard to a higher calling; a life driven with purpose. I do not mean it in the long-term since most have put down their feet and have entered collegio to dream, but what of the now then? Isn’t the now an affectee of the future? Aren’t we ambassadors of ourselves?

But isn’t that the great non-mystery, the human soul, restless and afflicted, torn apart by ravaging wolves of the heart. Who to be, what to be, how to become like them, when to act and where do it. There is no common misconception.

It is a matter of who you are and who you stand for. Will you outflow or will they pour in?

To not tell much

Hey friends,

I think it is up to me to clarify that I won’t be regaling you all with the stories from up-above ‘murica whilst I’m on holiday because 1. It is a generic fact that one way or another – if I haven’t already – I will say, “it’s amazing” and in Jimmy Fallon’s words, “Ew.” Second, if ever I was to tell the egregious mishaps of missing flights and the dreadful thought of having to sleep at an airport because there seems to be no way out, well, it’s a terrifying thought that may just haunt you all in your sleeps. (Update: we didn’t end up sleeping in an airport, thank my American aunt!)

But to be fair, I will share the chaotic culmination of the first few weeks of my American fun-dum before I actually begin the story-telling of the whole university/exchange/independence/dorm-ing/sophomore-ing life of me that begins next month.

But today, today is NASA dayyyyyyyy. #partyplanet

the angel of death

First of the Creative Writing works inspired by the most disjointed first paragraph I have ever half-read in She will build him a city by Raj Kamal Jha (someone please get me a copy.)

je présente…

The trees offered no respite. A mother, rocking the child, blameless, possibly lifeless, scalding waters in torrents under her feet, which, not the child knew, would be the resting place, scorned, strong, limp, breathing still. When the pools of her green hue, sometimes blue, mostly sage, lathered favourably on every bite, waxens, whitens, disappears, like the colour of the moon, the howl of a distant predator, begone, begone, did the trees finally ask the question, may I cover thee, an outcry of the once-child comforted by a once-mother, no more then, remembered now. Breathing. The child. And breathing still.

Beneath her feet (or was it another’s?) was a long thin string of once the colour of soot, now covered in red that followed the trail of bodies amidst the mass. She fingers the material.
Strong, sharp.

It cuts her finger and she bleeds. And it flows in a trickle, like the colour of the boy who once upon a time lived next door, not crying, never crying, but the one cradling him, like a torrent, a deluge, of blood, blood, blood.

With a mind focused, the wound closes as fast as it opened. She takes the soft gauze from her back-pocket and she pinches, in authority, the arms away from the bleeding boy. Let go. You must let go.
Or he will die, she tells herself but not out loud. You must never frighten the trapped prey. Or they will flee, and take the carrion with them.
And her purpose is no more.

The deep greens, like a forest under the mountains, so green, so full of life, sees another life, this one, much older than the boy, stronger, sitting up, scratching, she falters. She is herself. The little girl. A leg gone, two, three fingers, caressing her mother’s bandaged head while she itches. Itches to help another.

Stop, she wanted to scream. Get away from this place. Get away!
But she must never frighten the trapped bird. No. She must nurse them upon her breast. And they will take flight, finding a branch for the ark of another’s life.
Like her, once dead, now living for the dead.

Her apron is covered in a hundred men’s blood. Her fingers, sanitised, cleaned, still smelled of foul decay of young eyes going still, of maternal hands limping as hers tighten stronger. She is an angel. She is mine. I see her in white. Glorious, healing in touch.
I will take away your pain, but you must trust me. You must.

And some are frightened. Old men grasping, choking, heaving, hands pumping, I want to live! Live!
She takes their hands and offers them life. Then let me help you. And she takes out another roll of soft gauze from her back pocket. And she lays it over their eyes.

And it waxes, whitens, disappears, like the colour of the moon, of gauze of white, and darkness.

She chooses them, whosoever has chosen to live. Not many, all children, some men, their crosses are no refuge.
An angel, once a child, where the trees were too late to offer respite.
Of death, now saviour. Of life, now dead.