5IVE by Teater Ekamatra

“Sweet Concoction”

Reviewer: Muhammed Faizad Bin Salim
Performance: 3 May 2015

Teater Ekamatra kicks off their 2015 season with a showcase of the works of two graduates of their playwright-director mentorship programme and if this double bill is a sign of things to come, then it sure looks like it is going to be a stellar year for the company.

The first offering ‘Tart’, written by Nabilah Said and directed by Irfan Kasban, is delectable on so many levels. The script authentically captures the social milieu of the modern-day Malay Muslim demographic and is chockfull of astute depictions of the community’s concerns. These range from the very trivial phenomenon of makciks calling in to radio station deejays to the more serious chasm between the tudung-ed and non tudung-ed members of the community and how they view each other.

It is quite clear that the playwright (Nabilah Said) has an excellent ear for dialogue as the repartee between the three characters is on point from start to finish and is further enhanced by the convincing portrayals by all three actors, who give committed performances and do not veer into gross caricatures.

Under the guise of a simple reunion ten years in the making, to bake pineapple tarts together, we bear witness to how the three protagonists of Shiq (Umi Kalthum), Marina (Tini Aliman) and Huda (Nessa Anwar) go through this rite of passage together, to exorcise their inner demons and to shake off ghosts that still haunt them from their past.

This theme of having to go through an acid test of sorts and coming out stronger is further reflected in the inter-textual reference in the form of a recording of Irfan Kasban’s ‘Tahan’ that was running in the background as a television show being screened in Marina’s living room as the play went on.

The second play, ‘Abu’ written by Hazwan Norly and directed by The Art of Strangers, is definitely broodier compared to its earlier counterpart. We are presented with two siblings (played by Ruzaini Mazani and Siti Zuraida) who are facing strained ties because Kakak upped and left the family a long time ago due to extenuating circumstances, which we later find out is probably to escape from an abusive father. The prodigal daughter only returns home to reunite with her younger brother upon the demise of their mother and so begins their journey of rekindling their strained relationship. Do they wish to go down the same destructive path or would they emerge as phoenixes from the ashes of their checkered past?

Because of the short turnaround time, the sets for both plays are simple but they do not feel minimalistic. In fact, the designers are ingenious in creating two very believable live-in spaces for the characters by outlining the floor plan on stage. The hanging props in ‘Abu’ also seemed to mirror the baggage and unresolved issues that are hanging in the air between both siblings.

I am on tenterhooks; eagerly anticipating future offerings by these new talents that I am sure will be as sweet smelling as the aroma of pineapple jam that greeted us as we entered the theatre.


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5IVE by Teater Ekamatra
29 April – 3 May 2015
Greymatter @ Aliwal Arts Centre


Faizad is busy molding the future of the nation but on some nights he manages to escape the humdrum of reality to immerse himself in the world of theatre.