New Straits Times

Tale of intrigue in 19th century Penang

- Dennis Chua

ANEW, immersive historical musical that retells the Penang Riots of 1867 is in town from now until Sunday. Malaya Relived: The Penang Riots is brought to theatre fans by Liver & Lung Production­s, the Boh Cameronian-awarded UK and Malaysia-based theatre company, in partnershi­p with GMBB.

The Penang Riots is a story of opulence, opals and opium. Travel back in time with this sycophanti­c, sultry exploratio­n of Penang Hokkien high life and the Georgetown gang riots of 1867.

Lady Hwang (played by the award-winning theatre and TV actress Cheryl Tan) is anxious. Her lord has been at sea for almost half a year now and her snooping yet devoted hand maiden, Opal (Ola Bola’s Melissa Ong), is finding it increasing­ly difficult to soothe her Lady’s nerves.

Things take a turn when Lord Hwang returns and gifts the Lady a personal slave, a dark-skinned Eunuch (Phraveen Arikiah) with a prophetic dispositio­n. The Eunuch relates that Lord Hwang has begun trading opium and may now be working with the Red Flags, Georgetown’s most notorious Hokkien secret society.

Ong is best known for playing Mei Ling, the sister of football captain Chow Kwok Keong in Ola Bola The Musical while Phraveen is best known for starring in the recent play, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre’s Norm & Ahmed.

As tensions increase in Penang and as Lord Hwang leads the Red Flags to riot against the Cantonese White Flags, Lady Hwang slowly succumbs to the consuming ecstasy of opium. The trio must however face up to the difficult task of swallowing

their pride, maintainin­g the status and land of their Great House and, more importantl­y, extinguish­ing the dark motives of their shared enemy, Lord Hwang.

Brought to life in the form of a threeact musical, the show invites fans to go on a time-bending journey as you are given the rare opportunit­y to visit 19th century Georgetown. Strung together with original music inspired by Chinese opera and the dulcet tones of early technicolo­ur cinema, Liver & Lung promises a colourful journey with familiar sounds, smells and tastes.

Audiences are invited to dress in their best traditiona­l wear, enjoy the kuih and witness Malaysian history unfold before their eyes.


Liver & Lung is a critically acclaimed and award-winning internatio­nal theatre company. Stylistic and didactic, its plays, musicals and events in London, Edinburgh and Malaysia have reached a wide audience.

In 2017, their original musical, Mahsuri And Other Peculiar Tales, won Malaysia’s Boh Cameronian Arts Award for Innovation in Musical Theatre.

The play is directed and written by Shafeeq Shajahan, alongside Ian Skatu in the role of musical director and composer.

GMBB, their smart partner, is a retail creative hub at the heart of KL, and an exciting new ecosystem for creative growth and artistic collaborat­ions.

 ??  ?? Melissa Ong and Phraveen Arikiah.
Melissa Ong and Phraveen Arikiah.

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