Review: Asian Youth Theatre Festival Day 2
On Day 2 of the inaugural Asian Youth Theatre Festival, we caught Can’t Get Enough Of by Route180 Productions, a theatre company comprising Buds Youth Theatre alumni, and The Second Breakfast Company’s The Wedding Pig, a condensed version of a new play they’ll be premiering as part of their double bill in November. Check out our review below:
Can’t Get Enough Of by Route180 Productions
Directed by Rebekah Sangeetha Dorai and written by Masturah Oli (who also happens to be emceeing for the entire AYTF), Can’t Get Enough Of is a familiar story of intergenerational conflict as one father’s religious conservatism is pit against the rest of his family’s more modern views of living life.
Can’t Get Enough Of is incredibly relatable, and partially inspired by Masturah Oli’s own life, showcasing characters who are three dimensional, well rounded, and complicated in their own way. Tina Ramli is endearing and likeable as our protagonist and narrator, a spunky daughter who comes of age and isn’t afraid to speak her mind, often questioning the logic behind following certain house rules in Islam enforced by her religious father, or at the very least, imagining losing her temper and the outburst that follows. As our ‘antagonist’, Iliya Izzudin as her father manages to successfully bring out the character’s age and mindset, despite his own youth, and Masturah’s script helps audiences understand the place he’s coming from, while also still painting him as a loving father and husband with only the best of intentions, even if misguided at times.
Through our narrator, alongside her elder sister (Siti Syahadah Ali, confident and perfectly cast in her big sister role) and mother (Herlyani Ramlan), Can’t Get Enough Of manages to touch on a wide range of issues affecting the modern Muslim woman, from interracial marriage to present day gender roles. Despite its celebration and call for a more modern approach to Islam, Can’t Get Enough Of is also about the many sacrifices the family makes to ensure they stay together, from the daughters biting their tongue from openly arguing with their father, to the mother accepting her lot and going about her daily chores while hiding a secret love for coke and rum.
Can’t Get Enough Of is a thoroughly entertaining and informative production about modern religion and the conflict of change between generations. Deeply personal yet lighthearted and written with a deft touch, this is a play that bears restaging, not only for its important message, but also for how easily it manages to wash over you and keep you completely enraptured even in its simple story of everyday life for a Muslim family living in the 21st century. There is extraordinariness even in the ordinary, and Can’t Get Enough Of brings out the beauty of that in spades.
The Wedding Pig by The Second Breakfast Company (2BCo)
Written by Chelsea Cheo Baoyun and directed by Shermin Ong, The Wedding Pig is a tale of two sisters whose relationship is on the rocks following the death of their mother and the heightened stress of an impending wedding.
Starring Tan Hui Er and Tiara Yap as the sisters Leah and Debbie respectively, there’s a maturity in the way The Wedding Pig has been written and plenty of room for drama to be mined. Despite what may seem like a ‘petty’ argument to an outsider about an inconsequential, garish family heirloom, Chelsea Cheo’s exchanges between characters are laced with witty lines, and eventually reveal the much deeper underlying rifts in the relationship that imbue the narrative with the difficulties of grief. It is a joy to watch the sisters re-learn how to navigate their siblingship in smart conversation, and at times, painfully realistic self-doubt. Chelsea’s script is also smart enough to include Leah’s fiance Zach (Choy Chee Yew) as a character, offering a nice contrast that highlights the way blood family will always have a deep understanding and history with each other that an outsider may find difficult to understand.
An admirable debut script for Chelsea that brims with heart and humour, The Wedding Pig feels fresh yet timeless in its familiar tale of family drama, and by the end of the play, one will no doubt be filled with only warmth for this fun production that nonetheless manages to sensitively handle its darker, more mature themes.
An extended version of The Wedding Pig will be presented during The Second Breakfast Company’s upcoming double bill in November
Look out for our coverage of the remaining three plays from the rest of the companies taking part in the inaugural AYTF from last weekend!