Loneliness. A scary thing isn’t it? Imagine being all alone in this big, bad world.
What is scarier is when your friends and family begin to depart from your life, one by one.
Sisa-Sisa: A Collection Of Four Plays centres on, among other things, the vacuum that personal loss can bring. Directed by Mark Beau De Silva, this emotional anthology ended its four-day run at KLPac’s Pentas 2 last Sunday.
De Silva wrote Three Doors and Blind Spot, while Dean Lundquist and Jeffrey Fischer Smith wrote The Joy Of Solitude and Reservations respectively.
Each play took a unique view on how being a “leftover” (sisa-sisa) affects a person.
This was delicately explored in Three Doors. Datuk Faridah Merican played the protagonist, an aging mother who has just lost her husband.
On the night of the funeral, it finally hits her that her life is now in the hands of her three sons. None of them came for the funeral.
Faridah, seeking a life of solitude, wore her character like a second skin. It was her truthful embodiment of the mother that provided a window into the soul of the lost and grieving woman.
Supporting her were Ho Lee Ching and Douglas Wong, who played the various characters in the mother’s imaginings.
Blind Spot and The Joy Of Solitude, on the other hand, took a lighter approach on the subject of loneliness.
The former had Aiman Asmawar and Cheah Ui Hua play Hanif and Daniel, ex-lovers, who bump into each other in a shopping mall.
Things turn dramatic when Hanif realises that his son has gone missing. The duo scramble to look for the child, but along the way, they reminisce and deal with the darker issues that plagued their former love affair.
Both Cheah and Aiman shared a curious chemistry on stage. The awkwardness between them was not contrived. A disquieting air hung over the audience and that’s when you knew the actors had successfully accomplished their task.
Conversely, in The Joy Of Solitude, both Siangwei and Wong complemented each other.
This intriguing tale, which seemed to have Irish novelist’s Samuel Beckett influence, follows Charlie who finds himself locked in his own apartment with his older self. In an attempt to free himself from the conundrum, the duo resort to role-playing and other drastic means to no avail.
The young Charlie has no choice but to repeat the cycle daily. As the title suggests, solitude is seen as a happy affair in this play.
The final piece in the anthology, Reservations, saw Joe Hasham playing Edgar, a man suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Amelia Tan played his wife, Mae. The poignancy of this play echoed that of Three Doors. The miseries of memory loss and how it affects the relationship between husband and wife was ably handled by Tan and Hasham.
There was a deep sadness in Hasham’s portrayal of Edgar. Although his character did not speak much, Hasham splendidly showed the utter desolation of a waning mind.
The only thing I would have changed was to place Reservations second or third in order in the anthology. Since the play progressed at a slow pace and required complete attention from the audience, putting it last seemed an unwise choice.
Imagine taking a rollercoaster ride, and as you grab the bars in preparation for the deep plunge, the cart suddenly begins to cruise on a level track. That’s how I felt about it.
In the end, Sisa-Sisa proved to be a moving exploration of solitude and begged the question: is it a blessing or curse?