Excited by the prospects of what is to come following an electric first night of plays, the audience shuffled into the Drama Studio and took their seats for Night 2 of the Literature and Drama Society’s One Act Play Festival 2018. Completing the total of 9 plays promised, the second night featured four plays written, directed and acted by our very own UNMC students. The house lights flicked off, as stage lights faded up, and the night began.
CSI: Semenyih by Khairul Anuar Jamaludin
The opening act for Night 2 set the bar high, as Khairul Anuar’s short-form play inspired by a Harith Iskandar joke left the audience in stitches from laughing too hard. CSI: Semenyih tells the tale of a gruesome “murder”, and the unlikely unreliable heroes in the form of two very Malaysian officers and one suspiciously familiar detective.
A humorous take on the police-story genre, CSI: Semenyih combined slapstick humour with killer one-liners, as well as played beautifully with even the smallest details to result in a genuinely funny show. Almost every line was sent the audience off into laughter, and the cast did a commendable job, not just as keeping a straight face, but at preserving the atmosphere. The comedic timing was almost perfect, with ample space to laugh at a joke without it being cut off by the subsequent line. Sprinkling a little parody of Malaysian lifestyle (with nods to corruption, vaping and our infamous unreliability) was a decision well made, though some in the audience might find it hard to grasp.
Though the final ‘pun’chline left me groaning, the audience and I thoroughly enjoyed our time watching this rather unusual episode of CSI.
Muhammad Haziq Adil Abd Wahid as the Detective
Khairul Anuar Jamaludin as the Sergeant
Hamidah Abd Rahman as the Corporal
Omar Khaer Bashir as the Dead Body
Spectacles by Chin Wei Yi, directed by Kristine R. Lee
But with every high, there comes a low, as the next play took a turn for the dramatic. Spectacles thrusts the audience right into the middle of a family argument, as protagonist Dani comes out to her father. As unfortunately expected, they don’t see eye to eye, and Dani shares an intimate monologue with the audience, as well as a conversation with her sister over what it means to be gay, and what she would sacrifice to be herself.
Based on themes of familial love and trust, as well as trying to balance that out with being true to who you are, there are things in this play that are universally relatable in our Asian context. Though we might not be going through the exact same situation as Dani, we’ve all been there, trying to navigate the tricky tightrope of filial responsibilities and individuality. Props to the cast for portraying the complexities of a family unit so well, from the voice and expression right down to the clothing, especially to Amry, who played the father figure.
Cheryl Cheah Ee-Chern as Dani
Chee Zhen as Leila
Muhammad Amry bin Mohd Ependi as Pa
4’33” by Yee Heng Yeh
The play begins when the Director introducing 4’33” to the audiences, a performance piece inspired by John Cage’s infamous experimental composition. The director heavily emphasises on the need for the audiences to remain “silent and seated,” which is an allusion to Cage’s controversial composition. However, tension ensues, as the two front-seated audience (played by Nefissa Sahnoun and Noranisa Nordin) are unable to follow the rules of the director. As members of the audience, we are confronted with a deadpan silence.
Personally, I loved this play. I thought it was humorous and I was even more impressed with the cast, as all of them played their characters with such commitment. It was also hard to not be impressed by their skills, considering some of the dialogues that were incorporated into the play were quite lengthy. Furthermore, the play itself is abstract, as silences becomes a huge component within the performance – similar to the style of playwright Harold Pinter.
Granted, it may seem difficult to find meanings behind 4’33” – but perhaps the silence that was portrayed in the performance tells the audience that we have the ability to interpret anything from the play. Or that as humans, we are always desperate to have something or some sort of context or event to fill up the silences in our life. Or the playwright just wrote it for his own amusement and there’s actually no meaning behind it at all. Who knows? All I know is that, Yee Heng Yeh, you sure are daring.
Neda Al-Asedi as the Director
Nefissa Sahnoun as Neff/AM1
Noranisa Nordin as Nisa/AM2
Eugene Ong as the Orange Man/AM3
You Told My Mother by Shamini Vasu, co-directed with Emir Bustami
You Told My Mother is a realistic and heartwarming play on the turbulences that are encountered within relationships, based on the film PS, I Love You. The play portrays a married couple, Lily and Raj coming back from a family party. Lily is angry at Raj, as he had exposed to their family – specifically Lily’s mother – that Lily was not ready to have children.
You Told My Mother certainly seems to be a play to celebrate love, and the ups and downs of relationships that are inevitable when it comes to having a partner. The play was even more heartwarming, as the two actors playing the married characters had such a palpable chemistry together that the love between Raj and Lily could be felt by all in the audience. Furthermore, I was especially impressed by the choreography between Raj and Lily, as their synchronization suggest the years that the characters have been together, as well as emphasizing the love between the two. Congratulations to Ajeetpall and Shamini for realistically portraying a relationship, so true and so genuine to its core.
Ajeetpall Singh as Raj
Shamini Vasu as Lily
And so, the metaphorical curtains fall on another One Act Play Festival. In my humble opinion, the quality of production coming out of the UNMC student body just keeps getting better. I can’t wait to see what the next production has in store for us.
By Neda Al-Asedi and Hamidah Abd Rahman, photos by Kirushangiri Jaya Kumar