Ouch, that has to hurt! I exclaimed internally as I saw the character, Aniq (Aliff Adzham) flung onto the concrete floor which was covered by a black material to mimic the ground of a basement. The three actors of the play, Kurung were immersed in each other’s performances, each elevating their role while also supporting the other and it is one of the few great moments of the show I’ve witnessed last weekend at Revolution Stage. The first thing that the audience would notice being inside the room where the ‘stage’ was held was how incredibly close the setting was to the viewers and this helps with the play’s plot as it created an intimate and almost claustrophobic environment for those watching and the players. The props were created and planned by the prop master with the vision of director, Din Mawar which included uncountable pictures of actress; Kween Keela, a board, some furniture and not surprisingly a cage to realise not only the theme but the very title of the drama.
It begins with the introduction of the role of Andi (Ahmad Ghani), a young man who is a professional motivational speaker practising his speeches while his housemate, Aniq looked on. The latter character evidently suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as he repeatedly switched the lights on and off in a set of threes while also maintaining the cleanliness of the basement with his handy, folded napkin. The plot unfolded with the three actors interacting amid the unique and sinister situation they were in; discussing the characters’ flaws and histories, tip toeing around their weaknesses and playing around with their (and the audience’s) minds. Andi has become fixated with a psychiatrist named, Aludra meaning ‘gadis perawan’ or a virgin girl and he had trapped her in his dark realm where she was forced to live it by counting down the days to her escape if she was fortunate enough to taste her freedom. Aniq was a victim of his childhood friend, Andi as he was made to help him keep the girl of his dreams and to ensure that their crime is unknown to the world above. Their performances are further enhanced with the varied playlist played in significant scenes especially during a dance between two characters symbolising a game of control and vulnerability.
The core of the story is the characters themselves, the viewers must pay attention to the dialogue as with the lack of other settings; the script was used to paint a whole background of the three personalities and ensuring that the audience understood how they came about to this place. Credit has to be given to the prop master as he successfully created a space that seems a few feet below the ground and hidden as if we too were confined in the basement as well as the simplistic surrounding thus, making the area stark and unforgiving for Aludra. Kween Keela was incredible in every scene specifically because it is a rarity for her to have a break between acts as she was on stage for the whole hour and this encouraged her to stay in character while making us believe that she was truly in danger. The male characters both terrified us and made us empathise with the sickness lingering in their characters’ cognizance therefore, entrapping us in their domain; making us become more affectionate towards them. Kurung is definitely a play that opens up a discussion on mental illness as the audience became intrigued during the Q & A session to understand more about why the characters were presented in such a way. With a simple storyline, and even simpler stage set and miniscule cast, Kurung has stimulated a conversation that is much needed through art, a compact screenplay by Din Mawar and Farah Kamsari and an ominous concept.
Images courtesy of Asterik Anak Seni. Catch Kurung at Minut Init from 25th until 27th August 2017 at 8.30pm! Call 010-903 6786 to book your ticket.