2020 has turned our lives upside down in many ways as we all know it, with live performances coming to a grinding halt for more than half a year, it is making a gradual return, yes, but in a much different manner. I have to say, I least expected to be sitting in my bedroom watching a play over zoom, but it does come with certain perks. I get to enjoy it in my PJs, I’ve got popcorn at my disposal, but most of all, it is simply convenient. The Contract by the Haque Collective combines aspects of our “new normal” and the entire play centres around multiple zoom calls and face time calls. With telecommuting becoming increasingly commonplace, the play encapsulates the “new normal” of work while putting the spotlight on society’s darkest flaws. While the pandemic has brought out the humility in many, the age old problem of profits over people continues to rear its ugly head, albeit in a much nastier way.

The play was a little unconventional I’d say, but in a good way, it wasn’t exactly a livestreamed show, which I expected but I enjoyed the creative use of zoom. Who knew that zoom would soon become our bread and butter as the year progresses and an entire play using zoom? That’s some zoom-ception going on ( Apologies I wanted to crack a joke there) . Now, the play not only reflects society’s dark side, but certain everyday problems which have been exacerbated by the pandemic. The disconnect from loved ones, lack of a work-life balance, strained familial ties, these things have always been a part and parcel of life. However, for some as they are separated from those close to them, or in some cases, stuck with them, these issues become even more glaring.

I have to admit, Rachel’s character did irk me initially, especially with her discontentment over Jane taking on a higher paying job as opposed to continuing to help out with the family business. I did find her statement about her sister profiting from COVID, to some extent I may have thought that she was probably jealous of Jane, but as the play went on I started to understand her perspective better. One of the most pivotal moments of the play was when Jane found out of her father’s passing over a facetime call with her mum, and not being there for him in his final moments. I guess this puts a lot of things into perspective, oftentimes our work commitments or our own lives takes precedence over spending time with loved ones. Especially so when we get older and face more commitments and responsibilities. That particular scene hit hard for me honestly, in most cases scenes are just scenes when watching a production, sure they evoke some emotions, but not to this extent.

It wasn’t quite feelings of sadness or anything like that, but it just made me think about the relationships in life, beyond just making an effort to see someone physically or checking in on them. I’m pretty sure finding out about a loved one’s death over a video call isn’t the most ideal thing, but for many in other parts of the world, it’s their reality as many countries go back into lockdown and social distancing restrictions separates people.

Here comes the real highlight of the play, the refusal to shut down the production line after it was discovered that one of the factory line workers had contracted the virus. I get the frustration of the management and the key actors involved in the day to day operations of GloveCorp. The supply chain disruptions, the loss in profits from a production shutdown, the logistical and operational hassle of quarantining the workers and carrying out contact tracing. Yes, as much as we don’t like to admit it, money makes the world go round, and the crux of the issue always circles back to money ultimately. Yet again, this puts things into perspective, over how many are treated as expendable in these circumstances, as many conglomerates continue to ignore the safety and the health of the people for the sake of maintaining profits.

The kicker as the fiasco unfolded was when Jane sent a whistleblower email using her work email. “Why Jane, just why?” That was what I thought to myself. But hey, where would be the fun in all of it if they were shut down immediately? It wasn’t the wisest move from Jane yes, but even though her carelessness did not lead to a happy, resolute ending, it showed another side to her. The part of her which was kind and compassionate as she took the effort to check in on Sandra, the part of her which continued to stand by her own values despite the pressure from others.

This pandemic has been the biggest game of improvise and adapt and I have to say, this was really enjoyable. While I’d like for more productions to come back in real life, The Haque Collective has aced the whole improvise and adapt thing, I mean when life gives you lemons you make lemonades no?

Verdict: 8/10

Would I watch something similar again?: yes

Do I want it to potentially become a mini-series? A la True Detective, Unorthodox etc.? Sure.

To everyone out there, that’s all from me for now, am glad to have something to pen down before 2020 ends. It’s been a huge rollercoaster of a year, but stay safe and stay healthy guys, every cloud has a silver lining.

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