Dialogue reigns in U-En Ng’s Marble Hearts.
The curtain-raiser for the 2016 Shakespeare 400 Festival proves to be a production that asks a flurry of questions, with most answers hanging in the air.
Yet, the production, presented by The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat mesmerises the mind with a different intersection of Shakespeare’s own King Lear. Staying away from the father figure, the play focuses on the lives and dilemmas of the three daughters Goneril (Christina Orow), Regan (Safia Hanifah) and Cordelia (Marina Tan) – who are trying to find their way in life as their aged and abusive father descends into insanity.
From the start one gets thrown into the world of the sisters, armed with their own tales of abuse and difficulties, all three ladies convincing in their own stance. Calculative, stubborn and determined, it’s tough to decide on which of these ladies are true victims and which stories are real.
In the modern tragedy that features the all-female cast with Orow, Tan and Safia, the trio establish authority early on, only to disintegrate at the end of Act 1. Their chemistry evident without missing a beat, this writer found it difficult to decide on which camp to support, as each character’s lines were convincing in the 90 minute play. Their sisterly banter on stage believable – both in modern day English and Shakespeare’s own prose. Act 2 raises more questions yet ends satisfyingly.
There is no doubt that the spotlight is on the playwright’s creative take on the paths walked by the King’s three daughters. One is glad that U-En decided to take on Dato’ Faridah Merican’s request – to write a play on the daughters of King Lear, after he wrapped up the award-winning ISMAIL The Last Days in 2008.
Perfect for the commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, Marble Hearts was staged in Pentas 2, The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre from the January 20 to 24, and will be staged in Penang Pac from January 28 to 31. Tickets are priced at RM45/RM35. For more information, visit www.klpac.org.