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Theatre Review: Tender Submission, An Original Singaporean Story That Probes Deeply Into Relationship And Religion

Checkpoint Theatre’s Tender Submission, written by Lucas Ho, and directed by Huzir Sulaiman & Chen Yingxuan, is now available at Gateway Theatre till 27 August 2023.

Weekender Singapore is glad to be invited to catch the premiere of this thought-provoking play.

Previously, we have reviewed stage performances mainly targeted at children, teens, and young adults. Tender Submission, in contrast, is a play that is more suited for a mature audience. Watching this play within the small enclosed space of Drama Centre Black Box was an intimate and emotionally-packed experience. There were no flashy theatrics or song and dance of any kind, but the play itself was so cleverly written and delivered with such persuasiveness that it kept me engaged throughout, and even had me continue thinking about it afterwards.

What The Story Is About

Tender Submission takes place in the quiet of a church’s cry room, as a couple of Catherine (played by Neo Swee Lin) and David (played by Lim Kay Siu) anxiously await the results of an important vote. At the same time, they are also compelled to confront the very basis of their relationship and faith, which come under the sharp scrutiny of everyone in the room. 

Complex Characters and Superb On-Stage Chemistry

Veteran actors (and real-life couple) Neo Swee Lin and Lim Kay Siu bring honesty and nuance to their ordinary yet multidimensional characters as they navigate unspoken doubts, fears and desires. Their on-stage relationship dynamics feel realistic, relatable, and convincing. Even without a third actor appearing on stage, one may be able to picture the couple in the different stages of their lives, with different people around them, thanks to their excellent acting and storytelling.

A Different Takeaway for Everyone

With faith being a recurring theme, and the setting of the play being a church, it is unsurprising that Tender Submission contains numerous Christian references, though some are “entry-level” enough to be comprehended by the non-Christian audience. If you share the same faith as the couple on stage, you may find that some of their experiences and sentiments resonate with you. For a non-religious viewer like me, the play served as an eye-opener nonetheless. Regardless of one’s cultural and religious background, there is one common question that the audience is led to reflect upon: What does it mean to commit to something greater than ourselves?

Overall, Tender Submission is an enjoyable play that balances out tense moments with many injections of humour. In the words of the directors, it is a moving portrayal of a 30-year marriage, with a couple that tries for the first time in a long time to communicate honestly and deeply with each other. It is also a remarkable portrait of two human beings trying to push past the drudgery of their daily lives in search of the divine.

Sounds intriguing? Why not watch this play to find out more? Tickets are available here.

Do note that its rating is Advisory 16 (Some Mature Content) so there will be strictly no admission for infants in arms and children below 12 years old .