Performance Performing Arts

Review: Dusk (The Lighters, 2016)

Earnest young voices deliver a smorgasbord of dissociated dreams but we know these guys can do better.

Directed by Api Husien
Starring Maya Zaharudin, Mag Malik, Shay Razoul, Shaika Nadwa, Hasnida Saini, Alhassan Munawar, Grace Ng, Az’farr Baginda, Ika Angah & Shariff Salleh

Since their attention-grabbing Kenduri last year, independent performing collective The Lighters has been exploring different ways to present their unique ideas — on top of a stint at Publika where they debuted new performance pieces, The Daily Seni also brought fledgling writer Maya Zaharudin‘s rumination on Schrodinger’s cat to Minut Init back in April. For their professional black box debut, The Lighters pursues absurdism and physical theatre. Across four short works, each member of the collective tell their stories in various ways. “Martyrmony” portrays a Lord and his handmaiden more than eager to organise the perfect wedding for two abducted strangers. It feels eerie and messy — Angus and Effie speak in full colonial glory while their female victim struggles to focus, as if drugged. Elsewhere, physical theatre piece “____ship” forces three beings to communicate the way they know best in order to pull through an epic journey. Comic relief arrives post-intermission with “Happily Ever After… Again”, which follows a King’s search for his next Queen, conducted through an audition of Disney princesses. The short play is coloured by literal interpretation of each character’s speech done through physical gestures. Closer “Left or Right” meanwhile is a monodrama on gender identity and expression. By the end of its runtime, Dusk establishes itself as an interesting collection of stories which don’t immediately reveal their intent either — is “Martyrmony” a dig at society’s preoccupation with marriage? Does “Happily Ever After… Again” want to tell audiences that power corrupts regardless of gender? Let down by weak, cluttered direction and mixed performances, parts of Dusk struggle to hold attention. Whether its an actor caught in an internal struggle or a series of bizarre lighting choices, these decisions indicate that The Lighters should spend more time looking at works of their contemporaries or learning about theatre-making. Their latest exercise is not short on ideas, only execution, and that’s something that can be fixed relatively easily.

Dusk was held DPAC from 23 – 25 September 2016. For more information on their play and their upcoming events, follow these guys on Facebook!

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