I was part of the chorus of Anak Mak Satu – A Peranakan Siblings’ production – just a while back in September so when I got offered the chance to actually catch a Peranakan play this October, my first thought was:
I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to learn more about this beautiful culture beyond sarong kebayas, food and the songs I encountered during rehearsals and conversations.
Biji Mata Mak, also known as Mother’s pet, is a bittersweet tale of a mother’s love for her adopted son Freddy. After sacrificing all her financial assets for Freddy to pursue an education abroad, he decided to relocate to Kuala Lumpur to live with his wife and shun his mother (Bibik Bong Neo) after a monetary dispute.
Through daily conversations as well as extremely detailed sets and costume changes, the audience is invited to the world of Bibik Bong Neo and to relive this classic that was first staged 25 years ago.
Personally, I thought it was all too melodramatic and the emotions portrayed were mostly physically shown instead of felt by the heart but there were audience members of the older generation that teared as the play went on so I guess they related better to the issues and scenarios portrayed than I did.
What was most interesting about this production was the choice to stick to the native language – Baba dialect that is a form of Malay patois with a mix of Hokkien.
It took me a while to get used to it but thanks to my previous production, I actually understood some of the conversations staged so it was not much of a problem when the English subtitles provided by the side of the stage made several mistakes and was not in sync with the actors. I was able to concentrate on what was going on stage better as well, instead of constantly snapping my head to the side to read the subtitles before turning back to catch the action.
It was also a bonus that a glossary was provided in the programme booklet for audience members to take a look during or after the show just to understand the language better and maybe even learn a thing or two.
With the beauty of the language, costumes as well as props used, it was all visually pleasing and with the seamless scene changes of the sets, the play flowed well and it was easy to follow from start to finish. It was pretty fun to watch since it was a community show to bring the beauty of culture to centre stage and bring people together to remember, appreciate and feel proud about what they have.
(I am so sorry that I am only blogging about this now when the last show was on Saturday. I have been so unmotivated, stressed out and sick the past week.)