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POC Revue: Defeating systemic racism, one 8-bit mini boss at a time

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POC Revue: Defeating systemic racism, one 8-bit mini boss at a time

Latifa Tee

As I followed the glittery arrows pointing me to my seat, the faint murmur of an arcade game loading page grew louder. The projector displayed the loading screen of the evening’s video game, “POC IV Heroes of Time Past: Lost Tales of the Ethnic Kingdom,” and the audience was buzzing with excitement. The Reginald Theatre was not ready for the explosion of colour, costume, and song that was to come.

The show kicked off in the Ethnic Kingdom, where superstar Shani Patel took charge of the opening song, backed by the cast on vocals and dance. As the Pokemon tribute number concluded, Shani, a kick-ass warrior, was faced with a Mario-esque quest to find her two friends kidnapped by evil boss, Systemic Racism. Her quest was a recurring story-line that carried throughout the show, and I think POC Revue did a particularly great job of incorporating the show’s 8-bit theme into the content of the sketches and songs. Other examples of the video game theme were present in sketches ‘Beauty and the Weeb’, and ‘Sailor Goon’. Whilst it was somewhat sad to see my childhood heroine destroyed by an aluminium goon bag, I was faced with the reality that all good things must come to an (alcoholic) end.

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POC Revue was also just straight up hilarious. There were definite stand out moments throughout the show, such as the ASMR voiceover, the priest giving fortune cookie advice, and the brilliant spoken word poem addressing the directors’ own confrontation with racism in the ethnocultural space. I also really loved Deepa Al’s parody of the Plain White Tee’s hit song, ‘Hey There *Priyanka’, as well as the Dance Dance Revolution battle between two hot headed Bolsheviks. Extra shout outs go to Adam Torres, whose fading white-girl squeal had me in stitches, and comedic rockstars Tazrian Khan and Ping-hui Ho, who blessed every skit they featured in.

At times, there were sketches that seemed a little unfinished. At one point, a cast member dressed as a snail slowly crawled across the stage for 2 minutes. Perhaps this was a ploy to buy time, but I was a little confused as to the point of the scene. It was awkward. But for the most part, the sketches were hilarious, and shed an important light on the experiences and stereotypes of people of colour.

A special mention must go to the animation and AV team, who did a brilliant job of keeping the arcade aesthetic graphics on point. The attention to detail was brilliant, and the opening credits at the start of the show, where each cast member was reimagined as an avatar, was a nice touch that wasn’t unnoticed. The arcade soundscape for the show was also hella nostalgic. The melodies took me back to memories of tamagotchis and playing my Gameboy Colour in my childhood bedroom.

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So if you were lucky enough to snag a ticket before they sold out, prepare for an evening of animations, anime, and aesthetics. If you missed out, I hope this review gives you fomo, because I had a wonderful night and thoroughly enjoyed POC Revue 2018. A huge congratulations to Co-Directors Mandy Chen and Sophia Chung, as well as Producer Zaina Ahmed, for putting on a brilliant show.