Tales from the Jamban opened last Thursday at Indicine, KLPAC to a healthy mix of audience, ranging from fans of the producer/writer, Fa Abdul, and followers of the Tales series. Last year, Tales from the Bedroom ended its final episode after 3 years of successful stagings. So, did bathroom mishaps prove funnier than bedrooms?
1.) Because Bestfriends Do Shit Together
Written by Fa Abdul
Smart move to start the show by putting the worst piece out of the way first. The premise is simple: Two girl friends are at the ladies’ before their movie starts and one of them was struck with constipation at the opportune moment. Cliche shit jokes we find on the Internet cramped into one play. I was personally turned off by the boring jokes, but I hear mid 40s uncles and aunties laughing.
2.) Brother Long
Written by Lenny Wan
This seems more like a product of Big Nose’s Tales series…perhaps a bit too much alike? Am I watching Brother Long or a discount version of Bedroom’s Sex Goddess? Michelle Tan, who looks amazingly perfect for Brother Long, lacks the skill and flamboyance to carry the character well. Fun story, although the ending was a little bizarre… I can’t remember how it ended. Andrew Loh on one hand, maintained great skills despite being rarely seen. You may have spotted him as Steven in “In A Nutty Shell” (2013) or as the Coach in Short+Sweet Theatre 2015 “How to Write a 10-min Play”.
3.) Jenaka Apakah Ini?
Written by Amir Hazril
Now we’re picking up. The first thing that caught my attention with this piece is Raja Shah Irshad, whom I’ve only seen as an ensemble in a few musicals, and as the other guy in last year’s Short+Sweet piece. You know, one of the forgettable ones. Irshad’s stage presence and chemistry with the audience won my heart, and kept me looking for more of him in the next few plays. This piece, injected with the right tinge of horror was able to continue audience’s laughter from the previous play without being too creepy. The story, close to heart, especially if you attended public schools.
4.) Dude I Can’t Pee
Written by Fa Abdul
Fa Abdul has a knack for simple premises. Dude in dude toilets can’t pee with other dudes around because he’s insecure about his lil dude’s size. And so, kudos to director Sudhan Nair for putting in the element of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” (WWTBAM) in this one. Audience left the theatre talking about “the play with WWTBAM” rather than “the play about the small dick”, and that’s why it’s brilliant. New kid in the cubicle, Karan Hundal, handled the character of the TV Host very well and never once let go of his audience. Charles Robert also gave a satisfying performance.
written by Kevin Eng
Ian Abel Nathaniel’s debut stage performance is a character named Mr Dorset (French, apparently) who has the ability to smell out a person’s last meal from their poop. A journalist, played by Putrina Md Rafie, comes into the scene to interview Mr Dorset on live TV. Crazy story idea, but not so crazy about the writing. It may have come with a message at the end, but audience was already putrefied by the whole sniffing of toilet bowls and interactive sessions put in to save the show.
The toilet sniffing was very well done, though. Ian should try children’s theatre.
6.) O Lord Why Me?
Written by Michelle Tan
The best realism play in this series. Written with a woman’s touch, it dwelled on sensitive siblings’ relationship which warmed my heart. Again, Irshad performed skillfully, but I started noticing a few stage habits. For one, he has a certain stage walk that gets on whenever he’s on stage. It’s a minor problem but it blurred out the line of a different character he’s trying to portray. A visual effort was made to distinct the character: Hipster bracelets and floral shirt to tell us he has been going to college(?) I got the idea that he was referencing the narcissistic beach boy, Rico. From Hannah Montana.
Written by Terence Toh
The amount of puns in this play tells me it has to be written by Terence. A wallflower who goes berserk in a toilet and start drawing flowers on the wall. Totally Terence. Charles Robert performs as usual with the same competence. Irshad was again interesting to watch, especially in this play where he has to shift from a constipated, shy, bullied worker to excreting all his frustrations. The build up was well done, but I wish the initial ‘shyness’ was executed better.
8.) J. A. M. B. A. N.
written by Emmanuel Joseph
4 thieves break into a toilet store but was interrupted by a couple of doctors, who are there to purchase toilet bowls. The thieves then pretended to be the salesperson and part of the toilets themselves. Emmanuel Joseph, known for his political and racial comedy on his Facebook page, cleverly used metaphors to identify the different toilets with a particular race. At this point, however, I have grown tired of seeing the same actors over and over again.
9.) Tandas Haram
Written by Sho Suzuki and Mike Azmaine
The first piece to use religion, Tandas Haram is short and sweet. A light tug on negative habits practiced by Muslim Malays, one can watch the play easily, exclaiming “Omg I did that before”, and leave without any hard feelings. At least that was the case for me.
10.) Load of Faith
Written by Matthew Koh
Another cleverly written play using religious metaphors, Load of Faith is about a person who needs to go to the loo but end up with 5 talking loos that demand him to choose the right loo, where each loo represents a different religion. The starting was a little confusing with lack of clearance on the fact that the 5 actors on stage are toilets (because the initial toilet set was moved out), and the first few lines were overlapped. But audience starts getting it shortly after, and I personally enjoyed it because it also felt like a fun World Religion lesson. Also, kudos to director for the costume and light choices, which made this the most visually appealing play out of the series.
Tales from the Jamban doesn’t stink (as bad as the poster), and definitely a production where its high moments makes you forgive the lows.
This review is written by a guest writer. Opinions are not necessarily similar to the opinions of The Daily Seni team.