Performance Performing Arts

Review: Dato Seri (The Actors Studio, 2016)

Does this new Macbeth adaptation possess enough relevance to triumph through the clutter?

Adapted by Tan Sri Muhammad Ali Hashim and Omar Ali | Directed by Omar Ali
Starring Radhi Khalid, Safia Hanifah, Redza Minhat, Siti Farrah Abdullah, Yusuf Amin, Na’a Murad, Farah Sulaiman, Nawfal Zamri, Faridah Merican, Ho Lee Ching and Mark Beau de Silva

In Dato Seri, the respectable Dato’ Dikajang (Radhi Khalid) loses his moral compass after three witches foretell his future. Fueled by his wife’s desire for status, Dato’ Dikajang commits a grievous deed for power. He spends the remainder of his life scheming and shouting through tragic consequences, but its his women that draw the eye. The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre‘s latest entry in Shakespeare 400 is timely. Immediately resonant — Dato Dikajang and Datin Dikajang seem particularly familiar — Dato Seri entertained a strong crowd during Wednesday’s preview. First and foremost, Tan Sri Muhammad Ali Hashim and Omar Ali‘s rework is accessible, even speckled with comedy. The adaptation’s feudal aspect however prompts the question: beyond aesthetics, has enough been done to integrate Macbeth‘s tale amidst a post-independent Malayan setting? But “socio-political allusions be damned, Macbeth is a tried and tested text”, asserts director Omar, whose personal aim was to translate the source material within Malaysian cultural context. Other jarring choices include the utilisation of subtitles for effect, and a reliance on multimedia. Meanwhile, Dato Seri‘s female characters are consistently more engaging than their male counterparts; Datin Dikajang (Safia Hanifah)’s venom, Dato’ Ditanjong (Siti Farrah Abdullah)’s gravitas, and the fanciful  three witches (Faridah Merican, Ho Lee Ching and Mark Beau) ensure all eyes stay on stage. Stick around throughout the play’s 110 minutes to have this episode of deja vu rewarded.


Dato Seri was held at Pentas 2, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre from 1 – 5 June. For more details, make sure to check out Facebook.

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