As I entered the auditorium at Wisma MCA, Officers 1, 2, 3 and 4 were standing together on the steps of the seated hall. They were standing far from the ‘stage’ or the front of the auditorium where you would usually expect the cast of a performance to be situated. L5-7-44 is a site-specific performance, meaning that the thespians part of the performance move around, and portray their characters in unconventional locations– the audience following pursuit.
The officers were played by Andy Poon, Mia Sabrina Mahadir, Ping Khoo and Zulhusni Zamir who each brought a different dynamic to the entire experience. Their monologues were simultaneous and in sync, happening all at once. Throughout this intense part of the performance, it felt like being at an art exhibition– observing the art as it is. However this time, the art was moving, talking, showing emotions and grabbing your attention with their powerful carriage of words. Their monologues all had something in common– love, yearning and a portruding sense of eagerness.
Looking down on us through a big screen up front was Anrie Too, a representative of the Ministry of Life. This beautiful vision started out as a calming presence that provided assurance but slowly deteriorated to a harsh and disheartening reality check. Her character had to break the news to all of us that it was time for feelings to cease, an inevitable transition after leaving the world of the living.
Syaffiq Hambali presented himself as a dark and unsettling figure. Clad in a black robe and makeup resembling dark circles as if he hadn’t slept in months, this figure roamed around the auditorium independently. He had minor interactions with the other characters and with the audience. He was just a presence that moved in a way that was alluring. He would walk towards you and you’d be scared to look him in the eye. This figure could be a representation of death or grief.
I left Wisma MCA that night thinking about how fallible we are as human beings. Will I watch another site-specific and unconventional theatre performance? Definitely. It’s an experience everyone should go through.
L5-7-44 was written by Penang-based Yasmin Bathamanathan and directed by theatrethreesixty’s very own Christopher Lim alongside choreography by Syaffiq Hambali. The performance was especially concocted for Blossom Arts Festival Malaysia 2017. Follow theatrethreesixty on their social media pages to find out the next time they put on another amazing performance.