With a visually compelling but not well-used set, Fifteen arrives as SIFU Production’s “first full length production,” though it’s difficult to know how it differs from earlier ones.
This time round, a series of vignettes – written by Amir Imran – loosely stitched together much like the company’s earlier versions of Never Eat Too Much Before Rapture.
Fifteen begins with a skit, showcasing two well-dressed urbanites who reveal that they are going to rob a bank. One of them reappears in a scene in the middle of the production, and both meet again at the very end.
Interspersed among these three somewhat-related skits are unrelated scenes: there’s a kidnap call to a father of 11 children, job interviews and many others.
Gags punctuated the performance and the audience laughed, especially at the antics and accent of Gino the Filipino (played by Ivan Chan) who doubles as a love-coach and waiter-on-the ground floor serving patrons on the loft.
Gino never steps onto the loft; instead he raises himself on a box that puts him at eye-level with the table top. And from there he places glasses and pours the ‘loose juice’. A euphemism, we’re sure.
Ivan’s comic timing is quite good. Even as the incredulous mamak-stall waiter collecting payment from a patron who pays only in RM1 notes and hands them over one at a time.
While some of the gags were genuinely funny, they were not organic to the situation. It’s as if they were written for the laughs, adding nothing to characterization, plot or theme – none of which seem to matter much here.
Which leads us to this: if SIFU wants to undertake make-them-laugh performances like NETMBR – a string of short, unrelated skits where well-written gags hold up a performance which demands less on practiced skills – it should focus its energies on the script.
Make it tight, make the gags central to the situation; make them really funny. For example, this one (paraphrased from the show) should be purged:
When a man returns the Options pages of The Edge to a woman, keeping the other sections to himself, she responds, “You think I’m a material girl?’. His comeback: “You work for Madonna?”.
There were a few too many of these moments.
In the audience this afternoon, there was a significant number from the theater industry: Mano Maniam, Shanthini Venugopal, Joanna Bessey, several folks related to klpac, and the P and N from PAN Productions. We suspect our take on this SIFU production isn’t too different from theirs.
But check with them.
FIFTEEN ran from the 11th to the 14th June at Theatre KuAsh, 48 Jalan Tun Muhd Fuad, TTDI. For further information on the show, look for SIFU Production on Facebook. This review is republished with permission from BFM’s The Bigger Picture.