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22 June, 2021

A rough-cut dramedy diamond that needs some polish

White Pearl deftly tackles racism, cancel-culture, millennials, #girlbosses and startup journeys but could make a better impact with its arsenal of hot takes.
Packed into one act the show explores the above themes with a tight script and a slick set to match.The setting: corporate offices of a Singaporean cosmetics business.

The plot: A pan-Asian, all-female management team deals with the viral fallout of a leaked TV commercial for their skin whitening cream.

The foundation is clearly laid for a melting pot of culture clashes, wavering business ethics and some hot takes on the central theme of inherent racism across Asia.

For the most part, the show does a good job of handling its core message without coming off as preachy – if anything it’s laissez faire in approach.

Thankfully the quickfire banter keeps things humming along, and the authentic lived-in performances by the actors invite you to laugh along rather than get bogged down in any feeling that it may be problematic.

On that note it was a truly ensemble performance.

Highlights were Cheryl Ho (Sunny Lee) and Nicole Milinkovic (Built Suttikul) who seemed to relish and fully inhabit their roles. However, they raised the bar to a point that wasn’t quite reached by the full cast.

Despite being only 90-minutes long, there is some fat that could be cut from this show.

Without spoiling anything there are some asides that serve only as convenient (and obvious) plot devices.

Take those away and you’ve got a tight, acerbic play that doesn’t lose focus on its core goal of highlighting problematic, idiosyncratic beliefs while making you laugh.

If you find the Avenue Q hit, ‘Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist‘ enjoyable, you’ll certainly get a kick out of White Pearl.