Sweet and Sour Dilemmas

By Hooi Khaw 

Sweet and Sour Dilemmas serves up the perfect balance of side-splitting comedy and heart-warming character work. Crafted from personal experiences and ideas, writer/performer Brendan Wan draws in the audience first through comedy, then through emotionally truthful storytelling that packs a punch.

As soon as the audience steps into the theatre, they are introduced to the main character, Chef Chung. Chef Chung is immediately likeable, utilising tongue in cheek humour to get the audience onside before delving deeper into the narrative.

Though the show touches on the idea of stereotyping and racial discrimination, Wan manages to maintain tonal levity, and avoids preaching. He creates a safe space to share these experiences without judgement. The beauty of this work is
how deftly Wan alternates between the honesty of these moments, and the light-hearted nature of his jokes, juggling both with ease and precision.

Though the narrative is filtered through the lens of a very specific character that has led a very specific life, the content is extremely relatable. Wan compels the audience with a one-way conversation that examines love, life, work, and family, with a particular focus on identity – our need to carve out our own, in conflict with our need to fit in.

Sweet and Sour Dilemmas masterfully explores the human condition through a migrant tale. Stripped of the specifics, the content is highly relatable to any human being. This show will have you in tears, trying to figure out if you are laughing or crying, and will give you additional insight into the complexity of multicultural identities. Wan does an exceptional job of emphasizing that there are a multitude of different versions that exist, and also highlights that all of our stories are the same at heart.

Sweet and Sour Dilemmas is on at the Trades Hall.