Kampungkayell

Food, life, and fun in my "kampung,"(village), KL (Kuala Lumpur). Did I mention "food?"

Pygmalion - After

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

George Bernard Shaw meets Phua Chu Kang.

But with none of the soul of either.

I have friends in this production. But I have decided that I need to be honest and compassionate with how I review this. As I am going to do from now on for any show I write about here. I have no wish to offend. However, I feel if I, as an audience member do not speak up about what I might not like, then I should just shut up and not say anything at all rather than bitch off the record.

I tried to go into this production with an open mind. However, I feel that when a writer chooses to rewrite or to base his play/musical on such a famous subject, it is going to be inevitable that comparisons are drawn. I will try and steer away from that as I don't feel it's fair to do so. But being human, I have "My Fair Lady" and the book "Pygmalion" in my mind.

This rewrite of a much beloved musical opened promisingly enough. The audience were greeted by the flower girls in the theatre itself. The costumes were pleasingly eccentric and added a new dimension to what is, arguably, one of the most famous plays/musicals in the world.

Michelle Quah is possessed of a beautiful voice and very good technique. On top of that, she is a fine performer. One who makes lemonade out of lemons. To a large extent, the music, while charitably passable, was at times, at odds with the tone and the lyrics of the entire show.

Harith and Indi. Fine performers. Fantastic comedians. Unfortunately, in this particular instance, lacking in chemistry. There was none of that casual bonhomie between Pickering and Higgins which made them such an unlikely pair. Instead, it was a stilted relationship. One which I, as an audience member, found hard to relate to.

The supporting cast supported with two notable standouts. Mrs Pearce (Sarah Shahrum) and Ms Eynsford-Hill (Elaine Pedley). Mrs Pearce was in this instance possessively exhibitionistic and sycophantic to the clueless Professor Higgins and Ms Eynsford-Hill, who was blessed with a voice only dogs and cheating husbands could hear, both did a refreshingly comic turn.

Besides Michelle and the chorus girls (who did a fine job) it was difficult to find anything to like about this version of George Bernard Shaw's play or for that matter, the musical.

The sets were well designed and the costumes bear another mention. The sound was, except for one or two glitches at the beginning, very good. The orchestration was workmanlike.

But here I must congratulate Llewelyn Marsh for the dual role he played. I know how tough it is to maintain a character throughout a show. But to do it while conducting as well is an achievement. I do hope that in the future, he will concentrate on one or the other because I feel it detracts from the best I know he can offer.

My greatest complaint however, was the wholesale venacularisation of this "Pygmalion." It was as if it went too far without going far enough. What immediately sprang to my notice was that the "manglish" used was of the variety that expats try and learn but come off sounding somewhat stilted. Which is comical in its own way. But absolutely annoying when you have to listen to it through half the play/musical. Insertion of Malay or Chinese words in various conversations which substituted directly for the meanings of the words came off sounding...odd.

The context, I can only suppose for artistic reasons, was not changed. So that the class war that is part of the original play felt strangely British but not quite. And Malaysian...but again, not quite. I don't feel that to change the language is sufficient to vernacularise a play. Like "Rent" which borrowed from "La Boheme" the context, needs to be revised.

All in all, it was a very brave effort. One which obviously took a lot of time and energy to put on. The performers are to be commended for their hard work. The polish of the production was evident. The performers themselves are seasoned professionals, and I believe, made the most of what they had to work with.

But I cannot in good conscience recommend that you view this. If you wish to support it as a means to further Malaysian theatre, then by all means, but please keep that in mind when you watch it. But if you want an afternoon or evening of enjoyment, then rent/buy the DVD with Audrey & Rex instead!

Pygmalion - Before

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

Am going to watch Pygmalion tomorrow. I have a few friends who are in the play.

I've also read some of the reviews. While some were caustically anonymous, I felt that most of the reviews really seemed to have genuine critique in mind rather than just an exercise in being bitchy.

Having said that, I've always tried to be balanced about how I write my own reviews and this may have contributed to self-censorship of things which I felt may offend friends. I've wrestled with that in recent years and come to the conclusion that I should be upfront and honest, in a compassionate way, whether good or bad.

So...

Watch this space for a review. ;-)

Time Flies

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy

2 months to Christmas.

There is much to report. Much to say. But not enough time or energy to say it in! ;-)

Watching the rain slant down from my office window is invigorating in its own way. Perpetual sunshine gets me irritable. I actually miss the 4 seasons. Watching leaves phase to gold and fall and even the cold of winter is...change. The one constant.

And of course someone with my span of attention needs visual stimulation of all sorts at some point.

Raya is literally round the corner and is shaping up to be a decent in terms of business though I believe there were missed opportunities. Must learn to write ideas down and implement for next year.

I'm quite happy about my life at present. When a man has health, a companion to share his life with, family, friends, and the ability to enjoy life without CHOOSING to worry too much, what more can you ask for.

Bali

By Allan Yap & Nigel A. Skelchy



Surreal.

Don't get me wrong.

It's been a long time since I've had that much fun. Especially with Allan. When you work together and see each other 24/7 it can get trying at times.

But Bali was...reviving.

And then we heard about the bombs. Anger, frustration, sadness.

When we first heard about it, I remember joking about going back and this was the time to go and then when I got into the car I almost cried.

Needless to say, parents were worried, some frantic phone calls resulted in relieved "Thank Gods."

I have such mixed feelings at this point.

It was a wonderful holiday. Frankly, if I had the opportunity I would have stayed for another week.



Tulamben, as a dive site, was not as immediately stunning as Sipadan but it grew on you. The smaller creatures were absolutely amazing to behold. And nudibranch's everywhere, were getting it on...both ways. They're hemaphrodites!

Ubud - Tranquil, blessed by the Gods with a serenity, peace, and calm that is very rare in any place on this little blue ball of ours. Great shopping.

Seminyak - Friendly, peaceful, smiling, very loving and gentle people.

Bali as an island is large. Tulamben is all the way at the Eastern tip of the island while, Ubud is central and Seminyak and Kuta all the way to the south. There are 8 districts based, I'm told, on the old sultanates of Bali, all of which have a capital.

The people are beautiful, though maybe to my biased eyes, the women got the short end of the stick. The men were dusky, wide of mouth, sturdy of frame, and with soft dark brown eyes framed with long lashes which seemed sometimes more appropriate on the girls. But wherever you went, they always had a ready smile for you. Children smiled at you on beaches, hotel clerks, receptionists, were very quick to grin at you and essentially welcome you into their "home."

Allan and I are planning on returning and by the looks of things it won't be too long. Part of it is that we had a gorgeous time in that blessed isle but also just to show in our little way that these terrorists/maniacs cannot be feared. Because if you allow that to govern what you do, they've won!

Photos - http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/nigelskelchy/album?.dir=/b6e9