Manifestasi '08: The Review

Written by azhar.
Pictures courtesy of nooriskandar photography.
Videos credits to husinho.

[Share with us what you think of the whole event on top.]

The Malay Language Drama and Dance Society (MLDDS) had just successfully staged its latest production on 30th May 2008. The play was entitled ‘Penemuan dalam Pertemuan’, which meant contrivance within meetings. The drama was directed by Nur Fadilah bte Magyudin of 07S11 and Nafisah Bte Anwar of 07A06. The event, graced by Mr Fadhillah Goh (a member of the college advisory committee), managed to draw an estimated number of about six hundred strong spectators that started packing the college auditorium from 7pm onwards.

A good play has to have a sound plot; one that keeps the audience focused as it moves through the different stages of the play, from the beginning, to the middle and till the end. It was unfortunate that the backstory of the whole play was drowned by the commotion manifested by the audience. The show started with an introduction by a mysterious woman, played by Ruzanna Bte Supar, who briefly described the intended objective or summary of the show.

Ruzanna as the mysterious woman

Despite all the unnecessary disruptions in the beginning, I managed to get a gist of what the whole story was about. It was a tale of four friends – Anuar, Andika, Dahlia and Nadra – who wanted to run away from their homes. They began their journey at night, equipped with only a single torchlight. They then set sail in a sampan. The sun rose, and the four friends found themselves in the middle of the ocean the next morning. The sampan soon drifted away and journeyed into the treacherous terrains of the sea. It then crashed into a rock and they were soon separated, swept away by the strong current.

The four friends found themselves lost in places unknown to them. They became castaways. I believe the writer of the play was trying to show us how these four different individuals would learn from the experiences in the respective series of events they were in. The four friends would take with them the lessons they learnt from the characters they met and teach the qualities to the future generations. For example, for the plot on the Pahang conflict whereby Anuar was left stranded, the lesson that could be extracted from it was that size and quantity did not matter in winning a war; what mattered most was the belief and determination to succeed. The denouement of the whole story was to teach the audience the values the Malays should inculcate in order to progress as a community.

The four buddies as they began their journey away from home

Overall, I believe the writer had achieved her aim. It kept the audience focused with the plot thanks to the hilarious one-liners and the values that the writer hoped to showcase were also evident throughout each series of events. Although we were disconnected at the beginning of the play due to the interruptions, the story did manage to serve its objective. As for that, I rate the plot of the drama 4 out of 5.

Manifestasi 2008 introduced us to fresh actors and actresses. The lead actors were Muhammad Shahrudin (Anuar) and Mohammad Zuhairee (Andika). Shahrudin did an outstanding job playing the role of Anuar, an introvert man who came from a family that held heavy debts. Shahrudin managed to indulge himself into his character well, as someone who had low self-confidence and not doughty enough to express his feelings. This was obvious, as he would always shout at himself alone, unable to express it to the people around him. He managed to display his emotions very well through his eyes and the exaggerated reactions.

Shahrudin captured his role well

Zuhairee did not fail to meet up to my expectations. He started of the show by a monologue that showcased him as someone gullible and easily fooled by others. He amused the audience with his demeanour on stage. However, he was unable to deviate from his usual blur character, especially during the part whereby Luncai and him confronted the witch. For example, when the witch was approaching him, his expression did not truly convey the scared or worried mien. He somehow failed to capture that frightened look. It was as though the witch was not intimidating at all. His reaction seemed unnatural (or kaku in Malay).

Zuhairee portraying his character as someone who was easily fooled

The two lead actresses delivered their roles well too. They were Nuraisha and Irfananazhim. I personally loved and admired how Nuraisha played her character (Dahlia) as if she was oblivious to the surroundings. In Malay, we call it pandai berlakon dengan bersahaja. She managed to capture her character extremely well as someone who was sentimental, soft-spoken and always dreaming of her dream man. It seemed natural. Her trademark laugh never failed to giggle the audience. The crowd enjoyed her eccentricities very much. She was really assiduously into her character and was consistent throughout.

Nuraisha was natural playing her role as Dahlia.

Irfananazhim played her role as Nadra, a girl who only thought of herself. Irfananazhim started of well, but she did not seem to have the stamina to be consistent throughout the show. This is especially obvious during the series of events that followed as soon as she found herself in Melaka. She was only standing and sitting at the side of the stage, peering into the conversation between the Sultan of Melaka and Gusti Puteri in his palace with the same movements throughout. This part of the play had drained her energy as she kept repeating the same movement over and over again. At the latter stages of the story, she seemed to fail to portray her character well as Nadra and seemed to have returned to her own personalities.

Irfananazhim seemed to lose her character following the series of events.

I would like to praise two performers who did a tremendous job in the drama. The first was none other than Muhammad Arief. I liked the way he exaggerated his expressions in the story. He was by far the only actor who managed to connect with the viewers seated behind, as they are able to view his comical facial distortions clearly. Unlike Zuhairee, he was really capable of changing his elastic face, from a shocked look to a spastic one (especially during the short play before the male dikir group began their performance) and sometimes even an angry one, naturally. Most importantly, although it was only a supporting role, he did leave an impact to the crowd that night.

Muhammad Arief in a short drama before Satria Kirana performed

The other performer is Nurzahidah who played as the witch who kidnapped Mawar (played by Nur Hidayah Bte Jais). Nurzahidah was not shy to protrude her eyes. She really looked like a witch, from the way she hunched her back, her huge and suspicious eyes and of course, the messy hair. Moreover, she was also able to capture the sad mood when freeing Mawar. It was touching, and I can assure you the whole audience agrees with me.

Nurzahidah as the witch

Other supporting casts such as Muwahiddiin (who took the role as Mr E.A Wise) did an exceptional job too. His British accent was hilarious and he did manage to portray himself as an arrogant British general with his head always sticking up. Nurul Arini (who acted as Gusti Puteri) presented herself well as the princess of Majapahit. Her hand actions were very soft and she was very confident in her tone. I particularly liked the way she poised herself as a princess and how she connected her eyes while speaking with the Sultan.

Muwahiddiin was hilarious as he tried to speak with a British accent.

If you ask me who was the best actor that night, my choice will be Muhammad Shahrudin. My pick for best supporting actors are Muhammad Arief and Muwahiddiin. As for the best lead actress for that night, Nuraisha deserves it hands on. In my opinion, Nurul Arini and Nurzahidah are the best supporting actresses for the play. However, most importantly, the chemistry between the casts that night was good; they were one big family.

Arini was truly a princess that night.

I believe both the female and male dikir groups did a splendid job entertaining the spectators. In fact, I think their performances formed the grandeur of the whole event. They met up to everyone’s expectations with their refreshing and creative moves and songs. They have excised the usual choreography and have injected a new level of innovation with the short comical dramas, which accompanied each dikir performances. Satria Kirana and Ayunan Dewi had just justified to us why they are among the best performing arts groups in college.

Satria Kirana captivated the audience with their creative performance.

The musical scores were also impressive. The compositions were arranged by Syafiqah ‘Adha Bte Sallehin. The set design was not extraordinary, but was suitable for the whole play. The costume set was splendid too. I particularly loved the red uniform worn by the British generals. It really brought us back during the colonial rule last time.

Now comes the set of criticisms. Firstly, I think the fighting scene between the British army and the Malay villagers were not very well done. There was one scene whereby it was very obvious that Mr E.A. Wise (played by Muwahiddiin) was waiting for Anuar to push him back. The whole fighting scene was very messy and quite fake. Overall, the sequence was not smooth.

The whole fighting scene was not well done.

Secondly, there were a few errors for the lighting and sound effects during the play. One was during the monologues of the four main characters. The spotlight for Irfananazhim suddenly started flashing rapidly even when Shahrudin had yet to finish his line. There was supposed to be a moment whereby all the lights would flash rapidly for the four characters at once as they read their lines together. Another example would be the sound effect during one of Luncai’s lines. It somehow went on only after he spoke. However, the sound men got it right for the second time.

Thirdly, I was quite disappointed that the part when Datuk Bendahara (played by Muhammad Hanafi Bin Rahmat) was informing the Sultan of Melaka (played by Noor Hisyamuddin Bin Noordin) was not professionally done. Muhammand Hanafi was laughing when he was saying ‘Seven trays filled with hearts of mosquitoes’, one of conditions for the Sultan to marry Gusti Puteri. It was supposed to be a solemn moment. This had caused the Sultan’s angry response to be rather ‘out of place’. The consecutive speech between Gusti Puteri (played by Nurul Arini) and the Sultan was quite convincing, although it was not appealing to some members of the floor who might find it boring.

Another criticism would be for the Malay dance group, Keyangan Lestari. It was really unfortunate that some of the dancers were too fast in certain parts of the dance routine. Although I loved the choreography and the energy that the dancers showed, it was very unlucky that the synchronization was not perfected. Nevertheless, the dancers danced big and filled the play with colours.

Kayangan Lestari failed to synchronize throughout the performance.

The final criticism would be for some members of the floor. It is regrettable that some members of the audience continued to make unnecessary noises that distracted the performers’ focus. I think it was very irresponsible for them to make loud noises at certain parts of the show, especially at the beginning. The spectators at the back were very pissed off with the whole commotion, as we could not really hear what the performers were saying. It’s all right to laugh at the jokes, but shouting remarks unnecessarily, especially at the solemn lines was simply unacceptable.

All in all, this year’s Manifestasi was a successful event. The play was a comical, entertaining yet meaningful one. As for the performers and directors, they had really put in their utmost hard work for the past six months. The whole play managed to showcase the characteristics of a Malay community – patriotic, polite and strong in their respective personalities. Overall, it was a great production by a passionate group of Malay tpjcians.


bubblebuddy said...

My, my that's harsh of u, to critisize IrfaNANAZMIN whilst applauding everyone else.. its harsh to even give even one bad comment abt Manifestasi. The effort they put in is just too monumental, its better to treat it like a flawless diamond so as to not hurt anyone terribly. If its to be taken as constructive criticism, then it doesnt make sense. I do not know how each of the casts are going to work harder as they did their very best. How can u judge her performance based on two scenes where she wasnt even offered a speaking role? The focal point on the palace scene was the conversation. And if she were to exxagerate her movements, she would steal the sultan and puteri's limelight. Anuar fumbled on the very most impt line, but u didn't mention tt at all. Major roles, particularly her monologue, where i felt she introduced her powerful personality well. instead give her some credit on her major roles, and the fact that she is an indian willing to immerse herself in the malay culture.
Nonotheless, i applaud your blog you made for us. Its greatly useful and looking at the efforts u put in, i daresay i'd take it as a flawless diamond.

azhar said...

Thanks for your feedback.

I don't think its harsh to give one negative comment on Manifestasi. We have our rights to share our opinions and you have your rights to take it or deny it.

I did highlight that it was a successful event and they all did a good job.

Constructive criticisms are subjective to a person's views. And for that, you have the right to say that it doesn't make sense.

Some critics agreed with the review, some thought I missed out more fundamental mistakes and the others felt I was too harsh.

I can't please everyone. = )

NADRA said...

EHHHHHHH BANYAK CANTEK MUKA ENGKAU. AWAAAAK INI, siapa sebenarnya hendak menjaga tepi kain saya? well, all i hv to say is. apapun yg aku lakukan, benar, ATAUPUN SALAH, ITU PILIHAN AKU, INI DUNIAKUUUUUUUUU

yay! looks like im returning back to own personality yeah!

Anonymous said...

you know what... i think IRFANANAZMIN did a seriously great job.. her role was not like as easy as the others. her role was pretty hard okay! you got to admit it! no one have the ability to do as great as her okay mr! come one! her role is not as fun as the other 3!...and whats with the lost of energy? moving around during the sultan scene? there is no link ?

azhar said...

Thanks for your feedbacks. I will work on it.

Find It