Poorly Drawn Shark
Poorly Drawn Shark follows writer and performer Andrew Sutherland in a cynical and soul-baring telling of his time in Singapore, where he felt of being too white to be local but too ingrained to be foreign.
Poorly Drawn Shark is many stories concurrently; it explores the way white Australia fetishises South Asian cultures, delves into the light and heavy sides of frivolous sexual encounters, touches on bittersweet homecomings and why we run away from pain under the guise of travel.
By turns frantic, erotic, and hilarious Poorly Drawn Shark gives the audience a view into the tumultuous world of a young man trying to figure out his place both in the world and in a strange city.
There is a refrain throughout the show: “Sharks need to keep moving. If they stop moving, they die. If they stop moving, they are not sharks.”
Just like sharks we get the sense Sutherland (who says he looks like a child’s crayon drawing of a shark in profile) desperately needed to keep moving, either to discover his identity before his visa expired or because he was running away from life back home. Perhaps it’s both.
Several supporting characters played by Ming Yang Lim give the audience a glimpse of the breadth and complexity of life in Singapore as Sutherland dives deeper into conflicts both internal and external.
Throughout the performance humorous self-deprecation and metaphor are cleverly used to give the audience a break from occasionally weighty subject matter.
Culture is confusing. What happens when a person identifies with their country and not their culture? How do we separate cultural expectations from our own personal ideologies? What does it mean to be valued – by yourself, by others, sexually?
These motifs are brought to life by Sutherland’s story and by the many tangential stories that are hinted at along the way, including a few asides to the audience.
One of the characters muses, “everyone goes home eventually”.
And in the end the stories are brought home by touching personal anecdotes that neatly wrap up the various narrative threads.