Chatting on Monomania
Review by Hamidah Abd Rahman

Nurul A.
What did you think of Monomania?
18/12/20, 21:22

Hamidah Rahman
I loved it! I went into the theatre stream with zero expectations but I ended up really enjoying the story and the performance! What about you?
18/12/2020, 21:24

Nurul A.
I enjoyed it too but I had some qualms about the themes in the script…
18/12/2020, 21:25

Hamidah Rahman
Why?? I loved the play’s abstract nature and its theme of obsessive love. The story was monologue-based but they didn’t feel separated, which made for interesting storytelling.
I liked how we could feel the presence of this “faceless character” Karim, who we never see since he’s dead, but has a connection with the characters, Adam, Saleha and Farouk.
18/12/2020, 21:30

Nurul A.
I guess it was intriguing to see how Karim linked Adam (his son), Saleha (his wife) and Farouk (his lover) together and how his existence impacted them. I agree that the monologues from the three characters flowed seamlessly to create a full, connecting story.
18/12/2020, 21:35

Hamidah Rahman
Totally! I also admire how the play creatively used the props and curtains on stage.
It was a brilliant touch when the actors used them for each character’s purpose.
18/12/2020, 21:37

Nurul A.
True, I think that the use of the props and the curtains added emphasis on the trauma that the three characters lived through. The actors Sis Aini, Nik Jasmaleesa and Azmi Hud certainly made those moments impactful.
18/12/2020, 21:42

Hamidah Rahman
Right? I was breathless when Sis, who played Adam, wrapped the curtains around his body, as if they were chains that shackled him to his trauma. It was heart-breaking to witness how obsessed he was with money, emphasising his desperation to escape from his hellish life.
The moment when he repeatedly hit his chest with the box that was in the middle of the stage stayed on repeat in my mind. It was a strong representation of the burdens he felt to be a dutiful son to his mother, and the despair from not being able to move on from the trauma left by his late father.
18/12/2020, 21:50

Nurul A.
Adam was such a strong character, he had me in awe! Though the story took a turn when the character Saleha came on the stage… It shocked me that she had incestuous love for her own son. I was so uncomfortable when she used the curtains to wrap around herself, imagining it was Adam. That was over the line for me.
18/12/2020, 21:55

Hamidah Rahman
But don’t you think that it was an overall thrilling performance by Nik? That role requires a certain level of calibre! Saleha’s whole segment highlighted how the guilt she had for being a bystander whenever Karim abused Adam, had manifested into an obsessive and overprotective love for her own son. I can’t believe you didn’t find that part interesting…
18/12/2020, 22:01

Nurul A.
Not only Saleha. I felt even more uncomfortable when we learned that similar to Adam and Saleha’s obsession issues, Farouk was not able to move on from his obsession with the dead Karim. I just think that the play kept spiralling the more it progressed and I couldn’t help but think that it was trying too hard to be extreme.
18/12/2020, 22:07

Hamidah Rahman
I disagree! I think that really was Monomania's intended purpose, which was to push the audience’s boundaries and evoke unsettling emotions. There was a sense of surrealism in the script, which was enough to make us uncomfortable, but not to the point that deterred us away from the story. Even though as an audience we weren’t in the same physical space as the performance, the script was well translated through the screen!
18/12/2020, 22:13

Nurul A.
That’s a fair argument. The play does have some surrealist conventions with its symbolic physicality and dream-like transitions. Alright, but how about the physical theatre climax? Sure, it was interesting but it seemed to appear out of nowhere. I thought the choreography was lacklustre and the movements seemed to lack conviction.
18/12/2020, 22:20

Hamidah Rahman
I see why you think that but the message behind the final scene’s physical theatre was powerful! To me, the ending symbolised how fatal obsessive love is and the consequences that precede it, with Farouk murdering Adam for not meeting his expectations as Karim, killing Saleha for witnessing the act, and lastly himself, as he falls deeper into insanity.
It was a crazy ending but it was fitting for the play and lived up to its title!
18/12/2020, 22:25

Nurul A.
Fine, you have a fair point. I guess we can come to a consensus that the show gave an entertaining experience. Though, I think it’s more interesting that this entire play was produced by UiTM students. I was blown away that this was only a final year project.
18/12/2020, 22:30

Hamidah Rahman
The show did feel like it was from a professional production!
I wish we could’ve seen Monomania live on stage. The young theatre talents that the future Malaysian art industry has definitely seem promising.
18/12/2020, 22:33

Monomania was produced and performed by the Bachelor of Theatre students from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), under the university’s Fakulti Filem, Teater Dan Animasi (Faculty of Film, Theatre and Animation). This show was part of their “Pelajar Ijazah Sarjana Muda Teater Projek Industri Produksi Teater” (Bachelor of Theater Students Theater Production Industry Project).

The play was held from Dec 14 to Dec 18, 2020 on CloudTheatre, an online platform that streams virtual or online theatre performances.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly the author's own and do not reflect those of CENDANA. CENDANA reserves the right to be excluded from any liabilities, losses, damages, defaults, and/or intellectual property infringements caused by the views and opinions expressed by the author in this article at all times, during or after publication, whether on this website or any other platforms hosted by CENDANA or if said opinions/views are republished on third party platforms.

Hamidah Abd Rahman is a writer under the CENDANA - ASWARA Arts Writing Mentorship Programme 2020-2021.

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