Five Arts Centre “Tiga” programme returned last week in collaboration with Asterik Anak Seni, produced by their leading lady, Farah Kamsari. The programme consists of 3 new short plays staged in 1 night, as seen in the first “Tiga” which showcased 3 new plays written by Sharifah Alesya. “Tiga Dalam Kepompong” on the other hand, embodies 3 plays directed by 1 director, Syafiq Syazim.
I attended the show on a weekend night as I had some free time and wanted to catch some live performances. Having attended the first “Tiga” (which I had mixed feelings about), I did not expect much from this second episode. I will review each plays in turn.
BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS (Written by Anjali Nijjar Venugopal)
I did not understand this play very much, but I will still have to talk about it, I guess.
I’m all for newcomers trying out for the first time. Our theatre scene needs to grow, and we need people like Anjali. People who, well, make mistakes.
Beautiful Flowers was a heavily dramatic piece, with a very likeable message – two siblings who struggle to survive depression. People like to fund this kind of stuff.
But the writer tried too hard to tell her story by overusing metaphors and cliched plot techniques, and that bored me 5 minutes down. It was a waste, because the actors are amazing – Kween Keela Kamarudin was consistently grounded along with her co actor Megat ‘Adli’s physical discpline are immediate signs of that. Yet, their poor command of English (which could be caused by their poor understanding of their lines/plot) disrupted their delivery and most words are lost to the audience. To make things worse, I believe this is Syafiq’s poorest interpretation among all 3 plays. The story was not believable, what more understandable, and the visuals are messy. The message of the play did not impact me, and I believe the stylised script was the main reason.
The last straw that got me was the side character that appears half way through, the siblings’ Fairy God Mama (played by Alya Farhanah). I don’t know what she is, exactly. I don’t understand her motivation, and her purpose in the play. She switched from a TV3 interpretation of a diva to Rapunzel’s mother in Tangled the whole time, and finally ended as Mama, the horror Mama. I guess that’s how we got Fairy God Mama.
Now this one is interesting. A play devised by the actors, PEON tells the story of 3 guys in the train, set in the future, where an operating system called M.O.M controls us. The 3 of them then receive the same message from M.O.M, who has given them each a bag. M.O.M. sends a message, hinting that each bag contains a bomb. The train then stops, and the characters interact, discussing the possible danger they are in. Very the BLACK MIRROR.
The actors were marvelous. Nik Aqil sparked much laughters with his pathetic and weak character, although sometimes he fell into the danger of overdoing it. Hazmi Faiz had an innocence that held the audience’s attention whenever he spoke. Alif Azeman, pretty much ran the show, although I did not believe that his character could be so angry talking about M.O.M, while a minute before he himself is a peon of M.O.M.
That could fall under the director’s choice, especially since it is a devised piece. The use of moving train visual and M.O.M. operating system images were fantastic, yet Syafiq cheated at times to tell the story – moments like that when Alif’s character held up a giant ass clipboard to show us that he is actually running a test, is rather “hek eleh, no need lah show so big big”.
KENAPA TAK TUKAR NAMA?
This was the audience’s favourite, and is easily so. KENAPA TAK TUKAR NAMA? Follows the monologue of Hoe Mei Ying (played by Yiky Chew) who is a Chinese Muslim convert. In order to get a new Muslim IC, she went through several taxing procedures with Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara because they are unhappy that she wouldn’t change her name.
There is something very likeable and watchable about Yiky. Her smile is vibrant, and her energy just gets to you. Monologues like this are very hard to perform, and although it was not perfect, Yiky had the audience captured from the very first step she took on stage. The entire script was comedic, but there was a small moment when Mei Ying tells us about the time she went to convert to Islam. Her delivery of that part made me tear up. Mei Ying just sat there, and told us about her experience converting, and somehow that part was powerful enough to remind us all of the beauty and simplicity of Islam, if not all religions.
As compared to the other plays, this one was very minimal and had no set, although I wish it had used a bit more lighting to emphasize the drama.
For a donation fee of RM20, the “Tiga” series should receive more attention and deserves some followings. I also particularly like the name”Dalam Kepompong”, as these are scripts, producers, directors, and actors whose work are in progress and waiting to mature, like that of a butterfly coming out of a cocoon.
I also like the themes of each play, and how these themes are like a butterfly effect – two siblings grieving over deaths, or one outspoken citizen speaking out about the system we live in, or one Chinese Muslim who questions the way of life of the Malays Muslims – it may just touch you here now as an audience in a blackbox, but you never know how it may affect your choices in a bigger part of your life some time later.
Tiga Dalam Kempompong promises a great future in our performing arts, in all of its aspects and flavours.
Main image via Ivy Ikari (Facebook).