Post Curtain Call:
Mahsuri (And Other Peculiar Tales) – A New Musical
WHAT A NIGHT!
These are the three words that I would use to describe the opening night of ‘Mahsuri (And Other Peculiar Tales) – A New Musical’. Set in the cozy- if somewhat cramped- cafe of Melt’On in SS15, the audiences were engaged directly from the start of the play and made to feel as if they were part of it.
The actors were seamless in their transitions between the running plot of an autistic boy (played by Badrish Bahadur) waiting impatiently in an ice-cream parlour his sister works at (played by real-life sister, Badrika Bahadur) while reading old Malaysian folklore, to the retelling of each of these legendary Malaysian tales. Nabilah Hamid plays the incessant boss of the ice-cream parlour while Iz Sulaini took on the role of one of the co-workers.
It takes a special group of extremely versatile actors to have pulled off a real-life telling of four stories anthologized into one. While the cast donned entirely black outfits- with the exception of Badrish, who was dressed in a fully white get-up- their costume changes were kept simple but immediately transported the audience to the time and place specific to each of the stories. One gripe may have been the slight lag in pace during certain scenes, as any pause in sequence is only amplified in such an intimate space.
The musicians- Mariam on the cello, Azhad on the violin and Ian on the keys, directed by musical director, Wai Leong- were nothing short of perfection. Their razor-like precision held the entire show together, which was no small feat, infusing modern music with classical music to create a unique sound.
The emotions were superbly captured in each story, as well as the running story spieled throughout the entire production. The antagonist in two of the tales told, as well as the running story, was played by Phraveen Arikiah, from the angsty customer at the cafe to the insolent Bawang Merah, and finally the merciless General Wilson. I would have to say, without a shadow of a doubt, that he stole the show. The highlight of the night (no pun intended) was the lighting change that shifted the entire mood of the cafe during ‘Pontianak’. The goosebumps on my arms were real!
As for the cast, all of them did an amazing job in all of their many roles; with vocals that were sheer perfection and acting that emoted the spirit of each story. This opening night set the bar high for ‘Mahsuri’ the musical, and I am sure it is only going to get better from here.