In the stylized, fantastical universe of HEXA x UNUS, there is no shortage of corrupted politicians, evil ustads, ghosts and strange-looking henchmen.
Directed by Amar Asyraf and Aishah Hoo, the play is a collaboration between Projek Ronggeng and AVA Stage. You can read more about their deal in our write-up from earlier in the week.
For this reinterpretation of Tan Sri P. Ramlee‘s 6 Jahanam, actor slash playwright slash director Amar Asyraf has come up with a simple story of vengeance. In seeking revenge, protagonist Tantari goes on a rampage to murder everyone responsible for the death of his wife and her father, stopping at nothing along the way.
He discovers the HEXA organisation, and from here on a whole web of danger and deception awaits him and everybody else connected to the crime.
Played by a toned Aqasha in a sleeveless black vest, cape, bright red shoes, and tengkolok, Tantari occassionally has disturbing visions of his wife Masmeera that will send chills down your spine. Tantari is also a well-versed fighter as you’ll see in the production’s extensive fight choreography.
Thanks to the commitment of the Ronggeng ensemble as well as some stunning lighting design by young-but-still-otai scenographer Yusman Mokhtar, there are many moments in HEXA x UNUS that will brand itself in your mind.
In one interaction between Tantari and the ghost of Masmeera (played by Sari Yanti), the female ensemble (with their faces painted black) stood around the stage with their hands blocking their faces while giggling continuously, creating startling ambiance.
Several minutes later, the girls are all over Masmeera, restraining her before Masmeera herself starts growling and screaming at Tantari, taunting him for letting her die. It’s a very powerful scene, and one that wouldn’t have been possible if not for Yusman and the dedicated ensemble.
Another highlight of the night was Ungku Haris as Katipang, an ustad who may or may not have changed his ways. Katipang is a fairly creepy character; he uses religion to mask his wrong-doings and emotionally manipulates other characters in the play for his own benefit.
Visually, HEXA x UNUS is arresting yet utterly strange. Its production design brings to mind post-Y2K video games, traditional Japanese art, and film noir, although it’s biggest triumph lies in the ambience onstage. On top of Yusman’s handiwork, the entire play is brought to a new level thanks to smart utilisation of Noh Salleh‘s absolutely delightful contribution.
His “Sang Penikam” appears throughout the play in several versions, each commanding listener attention with zero struggle. It’s a stunning song and you’ll be humming it for days after, trust us.
While we enjoyed Amar Asyraf’s story, we felt that it was somewhat cartoony – like an episode of Captain Planet, or, y’know, the sort of investigative animated series children enjoy – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s simple, direct, easy to follow, and reuses enough elements from the original to qualify as a reinterpretation.
Our only legit gripe lies in Kamal Adli and Wan Raja‘s performances. Given their heavy amount of dialogue, we felt both actors needed to pick up on their pacing or risk creating dull moments.
But they’re easily forgiven; it’s worth noting that HEXA x UNUS stars some very good-looking actors which means audience attention remains on the stage (and not on latecomers making their way to seating blocks).
We would like to recommend HEXA x UNUS to fans of theatre as well as cinema as this action-packed stage production is bound to entertain and please audiences looking for a fun night out. But book your tickets soon; the RM35 seats have already sold out! See you there, fellas!
HEXA x UNUS will continue playing at 8:30pm until the 9th of August (with an additional 3:00pm show on Sunday) at KuAsh Theatre, Pusat Kreatif Kanak-Kanak Tunku Bainun, 48, Jalan Mohd. Fuad, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail. Tickets are priced at RM35 and RM60 and can be obtained by calling 012-620 4045.