Al Hafiz tells me Sejarah-Ku was first conceived four years ago at university. The playwright says it essentially went into dormancy until he revived it for Toy Factory’s new writing programme, The Wright Stuff. As a cast member dropped out earlier in the process, then-director Farez Najid stepped in to play Hang Tuah, one of the two legendary warriors. Taking over as director was Irfan Kasban, known for beautifully daring works such as 94:05 (Kakiseni Festival, 2013), in which a dying man of faith recounts his memories, and the politically charged Trees, a Crowd (Twenty-Something Theatre Festival, 2016)
This reshuffle seems to have paid off, with Farez Najid’s Hang Tuah and Salif Hardie’s Hang Jebat oozing charisma as the “warriors” acting out the English writer’s “documentation”. The play begins with the events of the tale drifting in and out of the recollection of documentation and sometimes confusingly, the process of documentation itself. This narrative structure takes a while to cement itself, given that the actors play multiple roles, some more often than others. Yet, this loose structure allows for several surprising interjections of silat (choreographed by Lian Sutton). The cast is smart, timing these silat movements to interact with little jolts of visual humour.