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An Esplanade Commission and Production

11-14 Apr 2019

Esplanade Theatre Studio 

Playwright - Eleanor Wong
Performers - Oon Shu An, Shane Mardjuki, Amanda Tee, Nessa Anwar

Set Designer - Wong Chee Wai
Lighting Designer - Petrina Dawn Tan
Sound Designer - Ryann Othniel Seng
Costume Designer - Anthony Tan 

Production Manager - Azy Alias
Stage Manager - Tennie Su
Assistant Stager Manager - Natalie Wong

Captions - Chong Gua Khee


Jonathan and Ellen are best friends. They love each other(1), got married, and had a child, just like everyone else.

A fairy-tale ending, surely?

At least that’s what they thought, until Lesley, an openly gay lawyer shows up at work one day.

(1)It's complicated. Ellen wants to be with women without the strings, and also with Jonathan (after a fashion). Jonathan wants to be a dad, with Ellen as the mum, if possible.

Mergers and Accusations (2019): Text
Production image. Ellen is sitting on a bed, smiling at Jon, who is kneeling next to the bed, making a joke.
Mergers and Accusations (2019): Image

After the show, one of the actors told me that how deeply I went into text was something that set me apart. I hadn't given it much thought, but navigating text finely makes sense to me - as you chew on it, and demand more from it, you start to get a sense of what it's made of, what it can withstand, and how you can open up new possibilities within. For people, audiences, like me, the loudest note and straightest interpretation isn't always the most satisfying. Hearing a line in a surprisingly way, watching intentions shift within a long spiel or get forgotten by the end of it - these sorts of things are more interesting to me. And I suspect I'm not alone in feeling this way.

Mergers is a good text to interrogate because so much rests on the dialogue. Ellen and Jon are loved not so much for what they have done as how they speak - they're funny, smart, likeable human beings. At the same time, their effortless eloquence makes it easy to gloss over their words so it feels imperative (and fair game) to call out their bullshit. They're also a reminder of the limits of speech. Even if we mean what we say, it may not hold true after a while because people change. If nothing else, Mergers is a reminder that we're only human.

Mergers and Accusations was nominated for Best Actor and Best Actress at the Life! Theatre Awards 2019.

Click here to view archival materials for the rehearsal process.

Mergers and Accusations (2019): Text
Mergers and Accusations (2019): Selected Work

Photos by Crispian Chan, courtesy of Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay

Mergers and Accusations (2019): Text
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