REVIEW / THEATRE
BEST OF (HIS STORY)
The Necessary Stage
The Necessary Stage Black Box/ Wednesday
Three years ago, in a monologue titled Best Of, Siti Khalijah barely moved from her perch while performing the role of a woman seeking a divorce under Islamic law.
In this year's Best Of (His Story), Sani Hussin bounds around the stage, performing the husband's point of view in a 70-minute one-man show written by Haresh Sharma and directed by Alvin Tan.
In contrast to Siti's immobility in the older show, he paces and dashes. He twists on an avant-garde sofa made of bars and circular cushions, he relaxes or prays on an old-school carpet. Furniture represents the warring influences of modernity and tradition within the character.
BOOK IT / BEST OF (HIS STORY)
WHERE: The Necessary Stage Black Box, 278 Marine Parade Road
WHEN: Till Nov 13, 8pm (Wednesdays to Fridays), 3 and 8pm (Saturdays), 3pm (Sundays)
ADMISSION: $35 from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to www.sistic.com.sg)
Physicality replaces emotional expression, with the character closed off to the audience for more than half of the performance. It is harder to engage with the character and appreciate his inner turmoil.
Little insight is offered into the husband's relationship with his wife, so the sudden revelation of his true feelings 45 minutes in is convincing in the moment, but not in the larger context of the play.
The character's inability to understand why the wife left is the point, yes, but the play could make it clearer what messages were flying over the husband's head.
Platonic and familial ties are, however, well articulated. Sani plays multiple characters in poignant flashbacks and comic sketches. He is the old-school grandfather who insists that wives be at their husbands' beck and call. He is the hoodlum best friend who introduces the now-divorcing couple, and also the swishy army buddy who literally holds the husband's hand through the divorce.
He is also slightly rushed. Perhaps it is opening night jitters, but the performance lacks pauses necessary to clarify transitions between scenes. In a scene, where the husband prays for guidance about the divorce, a prayerful silence - beautifully illuminated by Gabriel Chan - is broken too soon by words.
At the end, an entire section of the stage is closed off. This represents closure and also makes it clear the character chooses the traditional carpet and hides away his wife's upmarket furniture. Only then is he at peace. A point perhaps worth exploring in another instalment?