Neo Swee Lin (right) who plays Sunny's mother said the play is about a mother's love and how blind and devoted it can be.
Are you brave enough to reveal your family’s darkest secrets? Saw Teong Hin’s Hokkien play Hai Ki Xin Lor did just that.
SOMETHING lingered in the air that night in this older part of Penang, something mystical and ancient. It vibrated like the plucked strings of a violin and the gathering crowd felt it.
Whatever it was, a quietness enveloped the Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi clan house, Lebuh Cannon, George Town. But not for long. The voice of a girl which said, “We shall start after the call to prayer” broke the silence.
It was on the heels of this prayerful note that Penang-born filmmaker Saw Teong Hin’s Hokkien play, Hai Ki Xin Lor: You Mean The World To Me, began at this rustic venue. The Hai Ki Xin Lor, which ran from last Thursday to Sunday, was possibly one of the most talked about shows at the recent George Town Festival 2014.
The cast included Frederick Lee, Neo Swee Lin, Tan Ai Suan, Chelsia Ng, Chin Teo, Skyler Tan, Winnie Yap, Ho Sheau Fung, Janice Leong and Chong Jie.
Originally written for a film, Saw had to put the project on hold as many interested parties insisted the play used Mandarin instead.
The director, better known for Malaysia’s first epic saga Puteri Gunung Ledang, stuck to his guns, as he knew the play will only work in Hokkien and finally the festival came a-calling.
“I really appreciate how adamant Teong Hin was to have the play in Hokkien. It stays true to its origins and there is no other way to do it. It had to be done in Penang Hokkien,” said Chelsia Ng, a Penangite herself.
English and Mandarin surtitles were provided.
Hai Ki Xin Lor tells the story of Sunny, a filmmaker who returns to Penang to revisit his past as inspiration for his latest project. He visits his sister in the process and heartbreak abounds.
“This story is about family and however messed up it is, family will still be family,” said Frederick Lee, who plays Sunny.