... And Malaysian theatre continues to inspire hope.
Well, this one's a collaboration between "theatre makers from Australia and Malaysia", but that does not diminish at all the creative contribution of the Malaysian talents, who supply at least the writing team and the entire cast. I shan't spoil the story because you really must see it if you can (the play runs until 17th December), but suffice to say it involves a deeply dysfunctional family with truly messed up characters causing all kinds of mayhem when the PDRM drops by to investigate the case – as usual, it consists of the pair of the oblivious senior officer and the hapless junior. I'd venture to guess that there's a hint of influence from Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap" somewhere there.
That it's a murder mystery set in a rich mansion in Ipoh makes it very interesting, that it chose to present it as a comedy (and a successfully manic and witty one at that) made perfect sense, but even that wasn't enough – the play is presented twice to the audience, who are split into two equal groups and placed into two separate auditoriums that faces two separate but connected rooms in the house: the study hall which is also the scene of the crime, and the living room. In effect, you get half the information (and sometimes, half the joke) watching one side of the play, then get a complete understanding (and sometimes, laugh-out-louds) after the intermission when you switch to the other room. It is an immensely brilliant idea, and the way it was done was not in the least bit tacky or contrived. (Though not surprisingly, a certain amount of improv is required from the actors to keep the proceedings on both sides in sync.)
Another interesting choice was to have every single major vernacular language in Malaysia represented here – while the play is primarily done in English and Bahasa Melayu, on occasion the characters break into Cantonese or Tamil, so as a result, you the audience won't get all the facts. Unless you happen to speak all four languages (rare indeed). At any case it won't prevent you from understanding who actually dunnit.
The roles were perfectly casted, and it was a truly ensemble cast. Perhaps the characters are a bit stereotypical – Davina Goh is typecasted as the ditzy, sexy girl who happens to be an unrepentant gold digger while Jon Chew is typecasted as the effeminate guy who happens to be a consummate wedding planner – but that works for a comedy of errors like this. Anne James excels as the spurned ex-wife, JD Menon channels Hishamuddin Rais in his portrayal of the brother-in-law who is also a filmmaker, Terence Conrad is breathlessly hapless as the son, Nabihan Yaacob emanates a quiet, almost dangerous anger with her role as the maid with a secret (she starts the play for half the audience in a placidly absurd scene), and last but not least, Iqmal Shafiq and Ley Shahrwind embodied the archetypes of their characters (the senior officer and the junior) very well, and served as vehicles to poke harmless fun at the boys in blue as well as a certain, very recent sport event.
In short, there wasn't a single false note in the acting, or indeed, the whole play. (Okay, there probably were, but that's going beyond nitpicking.)
Shan't say much more. It's entertaining, hilarious, and unless you're offended by vulgar language and some scenes of a sexual nature, go watch it. It's well worth the price of the ticket.
P.S. - Yet another example of the production's attention to detail ...
The media launch for its latest theatrical production, an original whodunit titled Klue, Doh! took the form of a mock engagement party for two of the characters — business tycoon and toilet hygiene magnet, Datuk Jackson Mo Les Ting, and [his fiancee and former GRO from Jinjang,] Charity Ho Mun Mun. From the get-go, the company showed attention to detail. The media invite came with a soft-copy of an engagement invitation card. Upon arrival, we signed the guest book, received our door gift (a miniature wedding cake) and were ushered to our seats and a buffet spread by Gangbang Sukajolo, the Indonesian maid sportingly played by actress Nabihan Yaacob.