Diving Into The World Of The Bride Always Knocks Twice – Killer Secrets With Kuo Jian Hong & Jonathan Lim

It’s one thing to watch a movie, read a book or play a murder mystery game and be able to identify a killer before the final act, but are you game to try to do the same in a live performance where audiences get the chance to physically interact with the fictional world?

This is the premise of The Theatre Practice’s The Bride Always Knocks Twice — Killer Secrets, a theatre performance that engages audiences by having them identify the suspect of a crime that happened in a house that exists out of time and space, filled with women hailing from different generations. 

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“The first and most sort of important, I guess mystery for this event is the murder, but the deeper and fundamental mystery is, what is going on in this house,” Jonathan Lim, the playwright of the project, explained in an interview with Geek Culture. “Why are these women here, how are they here, what are the rules. You know the house itself is a huge mystery,” he added.

Jonathan Lim

Originally planned as an on/off-line event, the production will now be fully digital, though the premise of a unique twist, of turning the production into a game, still applies. 

Although the COVID-19 situation in Singapore may have improved (or worsened depending on which point of time you’re reading this), it is no secret that measures are still in place to avoid seeing a rise of cases being reported. Now more than ever, Singaporeans are encouraged to stay vigilant with their actions and surroundings to keep the virus at bay. Thus, The Theatre Practice had to find a way to adapt to the new change to continue the work that they have done, even if it’s to enter a new platform in this digital age.

“For us, we don’t see it as a temporary thing, we see it as a new form that will continue to evolve.” Kuo Jian Hong, artistic director of The Theatre Practice said. “So for us, it just means that it is a new thing, and it provides certain possibilities and limitations,” she added.

Kuo Jian Hong

As ambitious and complicated as the whole project is, Jonathan is confident and excited about showcasing the fruits of their labour for the public to enjoy. Yet, it wasn’t entirely so in the beginning. “When COVID first began, I was a bit suspicious of like, you know, should we be forcing everything online, shouldn’t we just wait till we get back to normal,” he shared. 

But after much deliberation on his side, he came to realise the positive aspects of going digital and what it can possibly bring to the table as they venture into new grounds. Similarly, Jian Hong shares the same sentiments, “Theatre is something that we will continue to hang on to but digital space offers some things that is quite exciting.”

The art institution was first founded back in 1965 and since then became Singapore’s longest-standing professional bilingual theatre institution. The Theatre Practice has collaborated with Singapore and international artists alike for over 350 productions aiming to reflect the richness and complexities of the country’s diverse cultures. Kuo Jian Hong currently helms the institution as the Artistic Director, creating plays such as the Four Horse Road, Lao Jiu: The Musical and Liao Zhai Rocks!

As for The Bride Always Knock Twice — Killer Secrets, it is another project that Kuo Jian Hong is directing, alongside Jonathan Lim who’s done plays such as H for Hantu, a $ingapore Carol and People Say Got Ghost as the playwright.

If you are familiar with the works done by The Theatre Practice, you would know that The Bride Always Knocks Twice had existed back in 2013. The Bride Always Knocks Twice — Killer Secrets is based on that universe, but re-written with the added game element and the online platform. Those who’ve not watched the first play would also not need to worry about missing any information, as the story would be retold.

Unlike most plays, this project is conducted across one week and is separated into four parts. As a digital mystery murder, players will have to investigate their way through to solving the crime with the means that they have. However, to make the event memorable and realistic, The Theatre Practice has added features such as being able to question two suspects one-on-one via a video chat software directly after the first part of the experience and most importantly, the ability to scour the crime scene themselves to find evidence that will lead them closer to the answers they are looking for.

The theatre institution has collaborated with Hotel Soloha in recreating the real-life crime scene, a part of which participants can look forward to the most. “After watching that first act, you’ve received so many details about the rooms they’re in and what’s going on and you’ve seen the crime scene sort of briefly. They (suspects) talk a lot about what happened in their rooms. So again, the desire to want to actually see it is very, very great” Jonathan prompted. Although it is optional, it seems to be a part that should not be missed.

“For those who are keen on solving, you get very kiasu (competitive) about it, if there’s something there hidden under something, I want to be there to go and (investigate), that’s definitely the way that most puzzle solvers want to be,” Jonathan enthusiastically shared. “We want to give them the chance, that sort of tactile experience of it all.” 

Sadly, the on-site investigation is now only accessible online, while we would have loved to investigate the crime scene in person, the digital experience would have to suffice for now. 

However, the stakes still remain.

With S$1000 and two nights stay in Hotel Soloha as the grand prize of winning the game, the event is done in a way to keep the players on their toes by having them actively engaged and participative throughout.

“I think it’s going to be a very challenging crime to solve in the sense that it’s got twists and turns, multiple, multiple-choice,” Jonathan says with a chuckle. ”It’s very exciting, whether or not you are actively solving or whether you’re just watching other people solve it is very thrilling that way.” 

The Bride Always Knocks Twice — Killer Secrets entirely is created to showcase the culture and heritage of Singapore where each woman represents a different era such as the Samsui Woman, who speaks in Mandarin and the Concubine speaking in Malay. With the different languages found in the play, this is one that should not be taken lightly.

“You need to watch it in groups of three,” Jian Hong shares. “Which is also a secret way to help you solve the crime because this is a very hard time for one person to solve unless you’re very smart,” Jonathan revealed.

Additionally, with different languages being spoken, Jian Hong laughed at the idea of the project being perfect for racial harmony. Jonathan was quick to jump along and jokingly said, “You cannot solve crimes without racial harmony.”

Moreover, the upcoming project not only brings people together to achieve a common goal but also people from different industries. “I think that it’s rare that you can gather some of the best people in the industry,” Jian Hong shares. 

By going online, The Theatre Practice is crossing not only film and tech because of the digital theatre platform but also the travel hospitality industry to provide an area for people to have a unique experience. Doing so is an effective way to connect with their audience by giving them a seamless process for a more intricate experience.

The Bride Always Knocks Twice — Killer Secrets is definitely an experience that cannot be missed especially if you are looking for something to do amid the pandemic. Held from 31 May to 7 June 2021, those interested may book their tickets on the show’s official website. For more details about the show and price breakdown, you can read more here.

As part of evolving COVID-19 measures in Singapore, please note the following changes to The Bride Always Knocks Twice- Killer Secrets’ programming:

  • Tea Time Tales: Cancelled
  • Chapter 3: Crime Scene on-site investigation: Now Online

Other aspects and components of the experience will proceed as planned. For ticketing enquiries, patrons can email [email protected] for assistance.

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