Review: Best of (His Story) by The Necessary Stage [2/11/16]

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In the theatre world, we’re usually hard pressed to find sequels to plays that premiered just a few years ago, and even rarer – a monologue. Best Of (His Story) is a follow up piece to 2013’s Best Of, which featured Siti Khalijah as a Muslim woman undergoing a divorce. Come 2016, this version now features Sani Hussin as a Muslim man going through divorce instead, to see what it’s like on the other side of the coin.

Best Of (His Story) explores the concept of divorce in the Muslim world and how the Syariah Court handles it, although that’s not the main thrust of the story. Sani’s monologue brought us on a journey through the life and times of a Malay man, framed by the often complicated and messy divorce proceedings, and reveals what made him the person he is today. As the pieces of his life are slowly assembled by the audience, the script reveals an interesting and riveting biography of a Malay everyman, with simple dreams and the now uncommon interest of reading.

Over the course of Sani’s performance, the script and tangibility of the story at hand were believable and realistically written. Sani proved himself to be a bit of a chameleon onstage, as he transited between convincing portrayals of various characters through the monologue, including his reliable best friends Clifford and Luqman, showing that male friendship can sometimes be a pillar of support in times of hardship, there every step of the way through good times and the bad.

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One of the strongest scenes was a praying scene where Sani asks Allah for a sign for what to do, leaving the entire theatre hushed and deep in thought.It almost seemed like each person was saying a silent prayer for him too. Of course, the monologue isn’t all doom and gloom. Sani cracked a few jokes during the performance, which resulted in a few sniggers and even laugh out loud guffaws from time to time, with his double entendres and euphemisms for sex in sports terms. Now I know how to score a proper ‘goal’.

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Sani’s charm and skill easily left the audience enraptured and hanging on to every last word, immersed in his world. There was almost a unanimous emotional link within the theatre, feeling a sinking feeling as Sani desperately tries to make the marriage work, and sharing a smile at the end of the performance, as Sani showed off his dancing prowess with a ‘joget’, the traditional Malay dance, possibly signifiying that despite the cloud of darkness that a divorce seems to swathe lives in, there’s always a beacon of hope that both parties will move on to happier times ahead. As the performance drew to a close, the blinds on the set literally ‘closed’ a chapter in his life, as Sani slowly dragged them shut across the stage to signify an end.

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Best Of (His Story) is not a defensive piece against the original Best Of. Sani’s character was an effective portrayal of the other side of the divorce proceedings, especially from the perspective of a Muslim man. Sani’s performance had the potential to be stronger, considering how strong of an actor he is, but as the first performance of the play’s two week run, we’re sure it’ll reach its peak. This was a story that I carried home with me, and it managed to resonate even with the other non-Muslim males (and females) in the audience, as a kind of shared History and testament to the human condition that this too shall pass.

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The Necessary Stage teased at the possibility of a third play in the series, bringing both His and Her stories to a close in a kind of trilogy, or to bring back both monologues in a future double bill. We certainly want to believe that’s true, as seeing both Sani and Siti onstage would be a blast and truly some of the ‘Best Of’ Singapore’s thespians. Hopefully, that day will come soon!

Best of (His Story) plays at the Necessary Stage Black Box till 13 November. Tickets available from SISTIC

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