“Sex, ageing and the courage to be happy”
Reviewer: Alisa Maya Ravindran
Performance: 22 July 2016
“If you are happy, then you are happy,” is the simple but powerful mantra of Helmi Yusof’s debut production, My Mother Buys Condoms. The romantic comedy challenges ideas about sex , ageing and interracial relationships with candour. The play gets off to a slower start as some of the actors’ jokes fall slightly flat. However, by the middle of the play, the chemistry between Maggie (Lok Meng Chue) and Raju (Remesh Panicker) consolidates and the comedic quirkiness of their situation develops. Panicker’s portrayal of a Malaysian air-con repairman who can only read Malay is commendable. He makes Raju believable and nuanced – a character with whom the audience can empathise.
Elnie S. Mashari plays Nora, a retired history teacher with a love for travel and Maggie’s best friend. Elnie delivers her lines with a good mixture of somberness and humour in her presentation of a character. Joshua Lim’s presentation of Wilfred, Maggie’s hyper-conservative son, who is mortified that his mother is having sex with Raju, borders on the hyperbolic. However, for the most part he is convincing in his portrayal of a confused and overly concerned son.
The play discusses issues of religion, sexuality and the rigidity of social expectations with frankness, making for some intense moments in the play. In the final analysis the play gestures towards the notion that Nora and Wilfred are slowly coming to terms with Maggie’s relationship with Raju. However, whether the two people who Maggie loves the most can truly accept that Maggie is a respectable and responsible person, even if they do not understand her choices, is left in the open. Wilfred’s pained expression in the final scene as he discusses with his sister Gwen (Seong Hui Xian), the recent whirlwind of events surrounding their mother, suggests that acceptance, while on its way, is still a long way from home.
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
MY MOTHER BUYS CONDOMS Wild Rice
30 June – 3 July 2016
LASALLE College of the Arts Creative Cube
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Alisa Maya is reading English Literature at the National University of Singapore and also writes for several online and print publications. She enjoys the diversity and dynamism of theatre and hopes to learn and write more about theatre in the coming year.