Post Curtain Call:
We won’t lie; when we got the invitation to review the show, we were really excited but also really scared. All we knew about Terryandthecuz’s ‘SK!N’ was that it was site-specific, dance-centric, and authentic. We really didn’t know what to expect, but we were looking forward to it.
When we first arrived at APW (Art Printing Works) in Bangsar, we registered and waited for the show to start. Then they started rounding us all up to fill out some forms. Tip: Fill in the forms truthfully; they’ll tell you that, so please do. After getting a number to pin on ourselves, we had to surrender all our belongings. Tip: Travel light (no watches, jewellery, no heels). You will be given a bag to put your stuff in and it’s safe, not to worry. We were then sorted into groups- forgive us for being vague, we don’t want to steal the experience from you by giving away too much.
Watching this production gave us chills down our spine. Cleverly rigged lighting lit the stage and the performers very well, there was great sound, a good ensemble, and almost flawless lead dancers. The suggestive choreography throughout the whole show conveyed a very emotionally jolting story about being a slave to, fighting and losing to the system. While the whole theme of the show was about human trafficking, we find out what it really means and how individuals go through it.
The whole contemporary routine had a very clear journey, starting with the ensemble. What really brought us “there” were the leads- Wong Jyh Shyong, Suhaili Micheline, and Lee Ren Xin– who performed a repetitive routine at the end to really hit home with the audience. Again, we don’t want to give too much away. In its essence, the three lead dancers were all up to par both technically and emotionally; giving us a full-on performance and not holding back at all. However, we did feel like the production did not reach a proper high, which resulted in a very anti-climatic ending.
Kudos to the composer/sound designer – David Frankze for well-composed contemporary dance music with a tinge of ethnic references. The music was very immersive and complemented the dance as to not eclipse it.
All in all, a job well done to the whole team for selling us an unforgettable experience.
After we posted this review, a few other attendees of ‘SK!N’ got in contact with us to share their experiences. We went on to do more research, and spoke to other people, and now we’ve decided to write an add-on review.
Here’s why: when we filled those forms in, a star was drawn on the corner of our papers. At first we dismissed it but then realized that it meant we were getting specific treatment; we would assume that the kickstarter backers and sponsors got that as well. We were all put into the green group while others were in the red and yellow ones.
The yellow group was fine. They had to go through something before rejoining the green group in the container, but we discovered that the red group never got to watch the show. Two audience members took this issue to Facebook. What we understood from Terryandthecuz’s reply was that they were trying to sell the experience instead of the dance. Fair enough, but perhaps they should have sold it that way from the beginning. Star2’s headline reads, “Dance production on the horrors of human trafficking” and Cilisos’s reads, “DOES SLAVERY EXIST IN MALAYSIA? THESE EX-SLAVES SHARE THEIR ANSWER THROUGH… DANCE??!” and some of the images alongside the article were the leads striking a dance pose.
Needless to say, a bunch of people who were in the red group felt like they got cheated. They claimed it wasn’t their money’s worth at all (except for the RM10 which went to charity). One netizen said, “The only thing we possibly learnt is that life sucks when you’re poor… that’s it.” We were disappointed to hear their side of the story because we thought it was an interesting concept. “I’ve been to a few immersive/site-specific shows, this didn’t feel like that at all,” said one of our interviewees, while recounting what the red group experienced. A few others unanimously agreed that the whole “experience” was almost as if it was, and we quote, “an amateur ‘immersive experience’ done by high school Interact Club members, in an expensive set”.
This is probably a matter of misleading marketing. If the audience were told what they were in for, or what they might have been in for (in this case), they probably wouldn’t be so pissed off at the end. The dance was the show (as advertised), and many felt missing the dance was equivalent to missing the show. Everyone should have gotten that chance, unless the production introduced dance earlier in the process.
We initially rated it with three and a half limes. This is our new rating.