Sunday, March 01, 2009

Of Thick Worms and Crimson Tides

Last weekend, I had the privilege of attending a play directed by my good friend, Christopher Ling, called The Secret Love Life Of Ophelia at KLPAC. Chris was recently awarded the Anugerah Seri Negara (National Arts Award) Young Talent Award for Theatre Directing and as I have never seen him in action, I was very excited to see his work for the very first time.

I arrived at the theatre at around 8pm and was surprised to see that there was already quite a sizeable crowd in the main hall waiting to see the play. It turns out that that evening's performance was part of a series of plays specially for students of the various performing arts schools in KL. Oh and also because there was the finals of the Radio Idol (Tamil language) competition upstairs. ;)

The play was written by renowned playwright/actor Steven Berkoff and it centres upon the secret correspondence between two (and only two!) characters of Shakespeare's Hamlet, namely Hamlet and his forbidden love, Ophelia. It was charmingly anachronistic in spirit as ye olde English was used throughout the play (...I thank thee for thy generous invitation and would be humbled to hear thee play thy pipe...) even as the two protagonist lived their lives watching DVD movies and checking emails from their laptops.

Both the actors, Sharon Lam and Alfred Loh were relatively new to the theatre scene but I wouldn't have known that as their excellent protrayal of the star crossed lovers had me and the entire audience besotted with the evolution of their passion and lust for each other.

Perhaps the other 'star' of the play was the sexually charged language of the play itself ( horn doth grow...thy thick worm shall satisfy...), which, to students of Shakespeare wouldn't have been a surprise, but as there were quite a number of teenagers in the audience chaperoned by their Literature teachers, elicited a few sniggers from the boys as a crimson tide invaded the pale shores of the young girls' cheeks.

All in all, I found the play a thoroughly delightful and intelligent production and definitely an eye-opener for me, a kampung boy who hardly ever gets the chance to see a play, let alone a Shakespearean one. Kudos to the cast and crew who managed to stage a very engaging performance that left me thirsty for more. Now if only I can remember where I put that Mel Gibson DVD.....

1 comment:

OogaBooga said...

always an enriching experience to watch a play... no matter how intimate..or expensive it can be. pity, we have so few venues like these ones or support!