Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Let’s hear it from the Gadis in Jalan Burmah

(the length of this review alone is a clear testament to how much I loved the show, also proof that taking notes helps a lot hehe)

Kartini Shuib :
1) Marry a husband, make lots of kid, then get a van. Is that all?
2) Asyik-asyik tanya ‘Dah kahwin ke? Hang bila lagi?’- they are all propagandists.

I’m not sure whether it’s the-

  • subject matter which resonates well with the fact that I’m currently unattached and do occasionally think of the clock going tick-tock-tick
  • care-free way Soefira Jaafar becomes Kartini Shuib the 41-yr-old-deflowered-virgin who have had six (Syed the first love, Farid the vertically-challenged Kelantanese, David Lim the pilot, John the expat, AmatKacak from the net and Rizal the dangdut-loving fat guy) boyfriends and still looking for the ever-elusive Mr. Right
  • set (rather elaborate compared to the Stor Teater kotak-kotak usuals, and where the hell did they find that grotty old-fashioned green oven-stove one?)
  • ‘intimacy’ factor due to the closeness of the performer to the audience (which is something that could make them small plays score more feel-good brownie points than those big-extravaganza-got-moving-stage-actual-river-and-all types)
Anyways, at its preview last night GADIS JALAN BURMAH totally rocked my socks off!
(though they have ‘only’ Bollywood, cheesy Malay pop, disco and dance tunes as the sound track. no rock songs though.)

First things first, go go go go go see the play. Go!
Really. Go!

Especially if you are a, uhm, well, everybody. As long as you love to watch a good performance.
(Actually I was about to corner the bevy of women who’s gone through the highs and lows of doing the introduction-drinks-dates-head over heels in love-breakup circuit but decided otherwise).

I’m amazed that the playwright is a man. Kudos to Shahredza Minhat. Psst.. were you a woman in the previous life ?

Gadis Jalan Burmah starts with a domestic scene of cake-baking preparation. Kartini contemplates whether to give Kassim Rahman (whose business card lies on the table in anticipation) a ring. In between sifting the flour, measuring the sugar and ‘screwing’ (you’ll know what I mean if you catch the play) the orange half for juice; Kartini indulges the audience with reminiscence of her life – the trials and tribulations (oh cliché nya frasa ini haha) of growing up as the only non-Syed/Syarifah in the childhood gang, the pressure of being an Ustazah’s daughter, meeting the first love (Kartini : Suddenly flowers start blossoming all over the place I tell you!) and the first break up, all the way through the many curves that adulthood flung along her way. And in the end…. Well, go see lah. Hah.

Gadis Jalan Burmah explores the psyche of a woman that's already supposedly past her prime and is still not sure of where she's going next. Yet, she desperately clings to the notion that she is very much in control of her life (Kartini : This is MY show), denying the fact that she felt compelled to explain and justify the whats and the whys of things she did, although actually no one really cares. The portrayal of that pressure to get married is something that most of us would be able to relate to, whether you're in the same boat (damn! am I like that please God oh God don't let me turn into THAT) or if you're already married (this group can go 'been there, done that, phew thank God I'm married now').

I totally love the scene where she ‘summarized’ all her previous boyfriends with a particular line for each guy, simply hilarious. Also the ‘tangkap basah’ scene. Omg, they’ve imaginatively added another use for the senduk as a prop - that’s certainly something I can’t remember seeing recently!

Soefira started a tad self-conciously and there were little fumbles once or twice in beginning I think, but progressively she became more and more comfortable with being Kartini and took the audience along for a joyful ride. Which I'm sure will only get better day to day till the last curtain call on the 23rd. My only reservations (petty, petty me) would be the timing (it started a bit later than scheduled- ah, the bane of preview nights) and also the sound system - there were parts where the music almost drowns out Soefira’s voice – I understand it's meant to be loud to get into the mood but perhaps it could be toned down a bit to let us hear what she says better.

Nonetheless all in all, I enjoyed the play very very much and would recommend everybody to go catch the show. So far a couple of colleagues has fallen to that trap, heh.



Gadis Jalan Burmah is playing at Stor Teater DBP on 13-16 Sept & 18-23 Sept @8.30pm and on 17 Sept (Sunday) 3pm only. Contact 016-2022 057 for info and reservation.

Presented by dramalab under 'A Season of Origins and Originals' program, produced by RPT theatre company, written by Shahredza Minhat, directed by David Lim and performed by Soefira Jaafar. Sofiera is also producer of the show.

Gadis Jalan Burmah is RPT's first project.

Credit of images used belong to the production.

I'd have given the same review even if I had to pay last night. (tq Megat for the invite)

Are you still reading at this point? Congratulations, you've proven that you have a very good attention-retention rate.

Now go see the play.

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