John (left, played by Ismail Jamaludin) and Allan (Jun Vin Teoh) on board a plane to Macau in the play Flight Club.
A review of director Jude James' Flight Club.
CHARLES Dickens’ A Tale Of Two Cities famously opens with this line: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” But unfortunately, for local writer and director Jude James’ Flight Club, presented by the Rounded Note theatre company, it was more of the latter.
Let’s begin with what was good and bearable about the play.
The premise of the story is an interesting, though not novel, one. Two men on board a plane to Macau; John, a 28-year-old guitarist and Allan a 19-year-old pianist, are running away from their lives. Both are embroiled in relational and existential issues and at the behest of John, the duo plunge themselves into the deep recesses of their minds in a simple yet treacherous exercise of visualisation.
Allan initially opposes the idea, but gives in to John’s whims, and through this, the two men face their demons and confront their deepest fears. Imaginary characters assume the role of their loved ones and while Allan attempts to talk to them and work out his issues, John becomes resistant. But eventually, he relents.
There was even a tribute to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Black Cat, where Allan, taunted by John, transformed into a cat and was bricked in together with a dead body by the murderer. The purpose of this scene is still unclear to this writer.
The story seems good on paper, but only so much can be said about the execution.
On the performance front, the ensemble of new talents, especially the two leads, Ismail Jamaludin and Jun Vinh Teoh, really needed to convince more.
Such a story requires the actors to deliver and present their characters’ inner turmoils and motivations. That didn’t translate too well here. But sometimes, a simple yet brilliant staging could be the saving grace of a play. This was also, unfortunately, wanting.
The set and props were minimal, which was not in any way an issue, but the moving in and moving out of the set pieces proved to be a distraction to the actors. In the end, Flight Club, which really has enough potential and raw talent, is the sort of production trying hard to clear a stormy ride on stage.
> Flight Club is on daily at Free Space at Kakiseni, L1 - 35 & 36, Level 1, SStwo Mall, Petaling Jaya, Selangor till March 2. Tickets are priced RM33 and RM23 (students). For show times and more information, visit www.roundednote.com.