REMEMBER those cerekarama and TV dramas you see on TV3? Slot Samarinda and Akasia and the lot of them? One I remember watching when I was younger was Dalam Hati Ada Cinta. That was the shit. Umie Aida and Ako Mustapha appeared in most TV dramas that time, and the whole Malaysia ‘shipped them wholeheartedly. And secretly, within the loving family, is a psycho mother-in-law who keeps tearing the girlfriend away from her spoilt boy.
Usually played by Azean Irdawaty, mother-in-laws in those shows were EVIL. I’m talking about poisoning you or pushing you off the stairs when you’re pregnant kind of evil. And of course we are much more aware of human’s (and in-laws’) rights today, but I kinda miss that stuff because it is soap opera at OUR best. These days all we get are arranged marriage and Wife #1 stealing business from Wife #2. Cliche.
Sayang Emak Gila Ipar was a flashback to that time. The story revolves around (you can guess from the title) a haphazard family. A death just happened, of the eldest sister in the household, Maria. Maria, who died from childbirth, left her husband, Dhani, to care for their newborn son, Fiqri. And Maria has a (jeng jeng jeng) twin sister, Rina. Maria made Dhani promised to marry Rina after she dies. Maria and Rina’s mother, Rohana, hates her children with all her heart because (jeng jeng jeng) her husband died on the way to the hospital during HER childbirth. Tragic.
Grab your rojak buah because things get nasty afterwards. Rina agreed to marry Dhani only if Dhani promise not to touch her, and he said yes. Pffft, yeah right boy. Rohana, has a huge crush on Dhani because he looks like her dead husband. (munch munch) Rohana then take this opportunity to lure Dhani into her sweet garden of riped, ready to pick, guava. Mmmmhmmmm
TV3 drama aside, we have to mention that the actors, Edan Yudin, Saidatul Nawawi, and Suhaini Hamzah, along with their writer-director Yaya Bahayi are theatre students interning at the studio where SEGI performed, Revolution Stage. And if I am one of their lecturer from the Malaysia Art School, Johor, I would have given these 4 young people an A.
Their performance, although young and naive in most parts, were perfect in its technical and physical parts. It was quite clear that they had a thorough rehearsal and clear direction, as almost zero mistakes were made despite it being a lazy weekend show.
However, the heavy, mature topic was not developed enough by Yaya and her actors. Suhaini Hamzah, who appeared confident as the 40s-50s Rohana, also restrained herself and could afford to “up” the psycho mother-in-law take. Likewise for Edan Yudin and Saidatul Nawawi, although their poise and composure kept them strong and grounded, the actors anticipated many of their intimate and non-intimate actions with each other. All 3 actors could have explored more within the soul of their characters, as I could not see that in their eyes.
That aside, Yaya took a bold move in the staging. The usually black box of Revolution Stage was painted white, and white curtains were also used for entrance. This is to depict that stage as a frame, like the family portrait pictured in the poster. Talking about metaphors, Yaya also used a couple of interesting elements in her direction, such as a family photoshoot in some scene transitions, which worked; and a couple dance session, which didn’t. That being said, bold moves are very much in demand from directors these days to keep the theatre scene fresh. And I believe these young theatre students and many others like them are doing a good job at that.