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Off Centre (One Play Series)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  144 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Off Centre is The Necessary Stage’s landmark play in the history of Singapore Theatre. It is best remembered for bringing mental illness and its patients’ plight to the attention of the media and the public.

The play uses effective techniques of flashbacks; moving the characters in and out of their schizophrenic and normal selves to elicit the rational and emotional
Paperback, Reprint, 132 pages
Published 2002 by Ethos Books (first published 2000)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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Joséphine (Word Revel)
Initial thoughts: First staged in 1993, Off Centre is much more progressive for its time than I had anticipated. Mental health is so misunderstood and until today, many in Singapore vilify anyone with mental illnesses. There's a fair bit more awareness, sure, but prejudice, discrimination and fear still exist.

In 2002, when I had first moved to Singapore and was in fifth grade, my form teacher would threaten misbehaving classmates, and classmates who didn't do well academically that they'd end up
David Tay
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I came in with high expectations for the book which is often touted as a powerful take on mental illness in the Singapore context, and the play certainly delivered in that respect.


One of my favourite scenes is the one where Vinod was in NS(national service), his breakdown seemed disturbingly real. He gets reprimanded for it, but I believe anyone in his circumstance who isn't "off-centre" would have done the same.

While there were certainly many powerful scenes, I was
Sean Goh
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Knowing the background of the play, the interviews and research that went into it helps overcome the irksome feeling that arises when reading the disjointed, staccato lines in which Vinod and Saloma sometimes speak. Reading this still didn't change my opinion of Being Haresh Sharma though.

I don't like NUS. I went there once after my army and told myself I'm never going back. The people there are so competitive, so shallow, no brains, no soul. I think they will all graduate to become experts
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really liked it. It’s moving and raw, and doesn’t shy away from the painful experiences mental patients face. I watched the ply and it was equally brilliant. The ending was abrupt and touching, personally I thought it detailed how for depressive patients, objectively minor issues can be a trigger for them. An important read!!!
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this book for my O levels many many years ago. The power and impact of this story is not lost more than a decade later, and I remember how much I was left with when I watched the actual production, which definitely elevated the story.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars. Amazing.
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book is relatively short and yet, succinct.

There are 2 main characters (Vinod and Saloma), who are both described as 'off-centre'. The book showcases their thoughts and emotions and it is interesting to see how their paths converged and diverged. Watching them grow and interact with a multitude of characters, and seeing how it shaped them captured my attention.

I don't think this review could do justice to a book that manages to touch and expound on mental illnesses so well that I could
Shu Yi Lee
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer
Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world"

Yeats, The Second Coming

I really liked this play and its themes of people who are different, struggling, and marginalized by a society that thinks of them as "off-centre". Perhaps one of the reasons why I could relate to this is because of its local setting. Certain issues did cut through me like a knife; particularly how I think of people who
Sara Reads
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Sara by: Jean Tay
...I got absorbed into the story. Perhaps I have a new appreciation for this genre now that I took a class & actually struggled to write a play. I love how the characters in Off Centre contrast each other, especially Saloma & Vinod. & I... didn't expect how Vinod turned out in the end. (view spoiler) So... yeah. Very thought-provoking, very interesting portrayal of mental ...more
Feb 06, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book highlights the plight of mental patients in society and how they are viewed by friends,family and the society at large. It talks about their struggle to fit in and how the patients long for people to view them as "normal".
Tse Guang
May 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Actually I liked it a lot more for its play with stage conventions than for its portrayal of mental illness. Some things can only be approached and not inhabited, I guess.
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A very powerful play. Set me thinking.
Beverly Tan
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Captures the mindset and the struggles of the mentally ill well.
Pepper Lee
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
One example of a play that has not seen a production which lives up the text.
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Haresh is Resident Playwright of The Necessary Stage and co-Artistic Director of the annual M1 Singapore Fringe Festival. To date, he has written more than 100 plays. His play, Off Centre, was selected by the Ministry of Education as a Literature text for N and O Levels, and republished by The Necessary Stage in 2006. In 2008, Ethos Books published Interlogue: Studies in Singapore Literature, Vol. ...more