It takes two to Tango

Nothing revitalises and uplifts my soul more than a good dose of art – whether it is watching a film or a play, reading a good book or a great piece of writing, and then the lengthy discussions that overflow with passion afterwards.

On Friday night, I went to see the play Tango by Singaporean playwright Joel Tan.


Photo credit:, who also wrote a great review on the play

Tango is a play centred around a gay couple Kenneth (Singaporean) and Liam (British) who have returned to Singapore to care for Kenneth’s ailing father, bringing along their 12-year-old adopted son Jayden. The main conflict in the story involved a confrontation with an elderly waitress at a Chinese restaurant in Singapore, who refused to serve them because they were “not normal people”. This incident, recorded by a bystander on video, went viral on social media, sparking outrage at the elderly woman’s homophobic behaviour, and triggering the long-contained anger of the LGBT community in Singapore.

The play, while filled with funny and heartwarming moments, is only made more poignant because of how real and realistic it is. An example is the continual allusions to the Singapore government’s decision to ban foreigners from attending Pink Dot, an annual LGBT rally and event at Hong Lim Park, a venue allocated for public protests in Singapore.

Although Tango is a play centred around LGBT issues, it is more than just a play about LGBT issues. Through the central conflict in the story and the perspectives of different characters, the play addresses social and cultural issues in our society.

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