Sunday, 17 April 2005

eight: (insert witty tagline here)

- BEWARE THE LONG REVIEW!!! Do not proceed if you're not a fan of the theatre or have never liked my long-windedness.... 

It was my first time at a matinee in over 2 years - My theatre kaki's got classes on Sunday, and wasn't sure if anyone else would be interested, so was there by myself. Went in without too much expectation because this was a show put up by students of UCSI (or Sedaya College lah to the rest of us) and not by famous local thespians and whoever. So whatever happens, happens. 

To be perfectly honest (to quote Simon Cowell, haha), it's kinda like ripping off 7Ten lah, except there were no famous people and there were eight 10 minute plays and not seven. But there's the thing called creative license and what not.

The stage was minimalist and bare - save for the props which was to be used in each short play: One chair, a white IKEA stool, a red tie, a red scarf, a pink cap, rope tied in a hangman's noose, a policeman's hat and club, and a yellow umbrella. 

Audience turn out was also better than I expected. But I suspect that most of the audience are friends of family of both the cast and crew. 

It was pretty low budget - even the programmes, which, xeroxed and all, at least was free when you enter the auditorium. Which came in pretty handy cos without it I wouldn't be able to write this piece.

Show got to a good start with Missing with Doreen Loo, who was seated on the stool. She was narrating about someone's death and the subsequent funeral where all the family rushed back to see the dying relative for the last time. She went on to tell the audience that the family was having so much fun that it was more like Chinese New Year (IMO) and not a funeral. While she was talking the rest of the cast were posing on the other side of the stage, you know, the "lights-off-move, lights-on-stay-stiff-in-pose" thing. The great twist was she was talking about her own funeral. 

Next was Chan Mei Yuan and Paintings, which I didn't quite get the execution (the cast had their backs turned to the audience and were doing, I guess, painting gestures) and but it was basically about interracial relationships and (I think) how people cannot seem to accept them even today and even when there are more and more people who are products of these unions. She was wearing the pink hat.

Lam Wai Yee and ANIMAL was quite an interesting perspective on the life of an unloved animal, wearing the hangman's noose. The rest were walking around in circles around here answering her questions and being creepy. They also took turns torturing her animal character. 

And before intermission (didn't expect one) was Dominic Luk and the play Shut Up, who started by saying that his family wasn't like any other family. (Here everyone else was standing in the dark behind him and played members of the family.) Then a date was mentioned and there was the sound of gunshot. One of them was down. He then told the audience that his uncle someone or other used to take him to the sundry shop and used to buy him limau ice balls. (Didn't know there was still ice balls back in 1988). The uncle then was depressed cos his money was lost gambling. So shot himself lah.. So anyway, fast foward to another date in the 90s, while the protagonist was studying for GCEs (wtf?!) and 2 gunshots were heard - his Auntie Maggie and cousin Adeline were shot because of Adeline had a boyfriend that her mother Maggie didn't approve of. Then more relatives die due to personal problems, preceded by some obscure dates and more sounds of gunshot. He was walking around touching the dead and was, in the red tie. Long story short, narrator "died" in the end (on 17th April 2005, which is today), shot by the rest of the cast cos he "wouldn't shut up". The gun shot sounds were so scary man... 

So fast forward to after intermission was Terima Kasih, Mama by Roshaan Farvein, which was the only short play totally in Malay in the show. Sounds of rain were played and while everyone else was pretending to be soaked in the "rain", she talked to the audience and walked around her "shivering" cast members in the yellow umbrella as she was writing a letter to her mother (you know on TV whenever someone opens a letter, there's always the writer's voice narrating the letter?), telling her of a nightmare marriage to a man of her mother's choice. It was the saddest play of all when she ended with "terima kasih, Mama". So very the RTM.

After that the audience was jolted to the other end of the emotional spectrum when it was the angmo dude (Daniel Dennis - who, I admit, ain't that bad to look at)'s turn with his erm, piece La Negara, which I suspect is the comic relief in between all the serious and macabre stuff that the rest got. It also reminded me of Life...2 when everyone was sitting, lying around the person that's telling the story, basically chilling out lah. But it was more standup-ish (sort of lah, okay...) than it was a short play as he related his story about living in Malaysia and his best experience was "hanging out with your buddies at 1 a.m. at the mamak" and also driving in KL (which I can SO relate to). Funny that I should say standup cos he was the one with the metal barstool. 

The seventh piece was entitled "V" with Shamini H (who was busying tying and untying the red scarf), about being a woman and the discrimination that they face at home, with friends, at work and family. 

After all that, it was the final piece that stumped me. Traffic, presented by Prakash G was a bit the weird (okaylah, nothing to do with drug traffickinglah). He was dressed as a policeman (the hat and all, no uniform) and while red and green lights ala traffic light (unto the audience) he was busying erm, writing out summouns for the rest of the cast, who are busying moving around the stage and giving at least someone in the house a headache. A bitchy line a day keeps the colleagues away... haha. But I still don't the point of this piece. 

While the stories were great by themselves, but the movement of the cast while one person is telling the story can get a bit distracting from the story at hand. (And, if I've not mentioned enough, potentially give someone a headache). Also doesn't help that one or two of them were speaking softly and I couldn't hear them over the sounds effects. But overall my favourite pieces are Missing and Shut Up.

When I came out, I was pretty surprised to see that the cast was already outside shaking hands and answering questions. Though I enjoyed the show, but I wasn't in the right frame of mind to go talk to them or anything and went straight home.

Best RM12 spent this year on an amateur performance.

And if you've survived this review, I congratulate and also thank you for staying put with me. This is probably one of my longest reviews ever, after Life... Sdn Bhd 2. Took me almost 3 hours (despite the time stamp) to do this. Heh.

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