Ex­is­ten­tial tan­gle

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - ARTS - By DI­NESH KU­MAR MAGANATHAN star2@thes­tar.com.my

ChArLeS Dick­ens’ A Tale Of Two Cities fa­mously opens with this line: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” But un­for­tu­nately, for lo­cal writer and di­rec­tor Jude James’ Flight Club, pre­sented by the rounded Note theatre com­pany, it was more of the lat­ter.

Let’s be­gin with what was good and bear­able about the play.

The premise of the story is an in­ter­est­ing, though not novel, one. Two men on board a plane to Ma­cau; John, a 28-year-old gui­tarist and Al­lan a 19-year-old pi­anist, are run­ning away from their lives. Both are em­broiled in re­la­tional and ex­is­ten­tial is­sues and at the be­hest of John, the duo plunge them­selves into the deep re­cesses of their minds in a sim­ple yet treach­er­ous ex­er­cise of vi­su­al­i­sa­tion.

Al­lan ini­tially op­poses the idea, but gives in to John’s whims, and through this, the two men face their demons and con­front their deep­est fears. Imag­i­nary char­ac­ters as­sume the role of their loved ones and while Al­lan at­tempts to talk to them and work out his is­sues, John be­comes re­sis­tant. But even­tu­ally, he re­lents.

There was even a trib­ute to edgar Al­lan Poe’s The Black Cat, where Al­lan, taunted by John, trans­formed into a cat and was bricked in to­gether with a dead body by the mur­derer. The pur­pose of this scene is still un­clear to this writer.

The story seems good on paper, but only so much can be said about the ex­e­cu­tion.

On the per­for­mance front, the en­sem­ble of new tal­ents, es­pe­cially the two leads, Ismail Ja­maludin and Jun Vinh Teoh, re­ally needed to con­vince more.

Such a story re­quires the ac­tors to deliver and present their char­ac­ters’ in­ner tur­moils and mo­ti­va­tions. That didn’t trans­late too well here. But some­times, a sim­ple yet bril­liant stag­ing could be the sav­ing grace of a play. This was also, un­for­tu­nately, want­ing. The set and props were min­i­mal, which was not in any way an is­sue, but the mov­ing in and mov­ing out of the set pieces proved to be a dis­trac­tion to the ac­tors. In the end, Flight Club, which re­ally has enough po­ten­tial and raw talent, is the sort of pro­duc­tion try­ing hard to clear a stormy ride on stage.

Flight Club is on daily at Free Space @ Kakiseni, L1 - 35 & 36, Level 1, SStwo Mall, Petaling Jaya, Se­lan­gor till March 2. Tick­ets are priced RM33 and RM23 (Stu­dent). For show times and more in­for­ma­tion, visit www. round­ed­note.com.

John (left, played by ismail Ja­maludin) and al­lan (Jun Vin Teoh) on board a plane to Ma­cau in the play FlightClub.

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