A Little Conviction preps up a ‘jewellery shop’ to observe the politics of gender up close.
IN the battle of the sexes, men have long been seen to be at a disadvantage on account their of being generally clueless.British playwright Jodie Lancaster toys with this notion and the drama of gender clashes in play A Little Conviction which pits hapless Henry at the mercy of his fiancee-to-be Harriet and mysterious jewellery shopkeeper Misha.
The play will be making its debut this week at The Canvas in Damansara Perdana, Selangor, with director Alex Chua at the helm of this Electric Minds Project production. This would be Chua’s second time directing a script by Lancaster, having previously done White Trash in 2011.
Chua explains the play’s premise – Henry attempting to buy an engagement ring for Harriet, but not being allowed to do so by Misha and her silent manservant – is a deceptively simple one. “While it starts off very realistic, the play gets increasingly divorced from reality as the audience learns there’s more to Misha’s jewellery shop than one first assumes,” Chua says. “We’re really hoping it will freak the audience out,” he adds with a maniacal laugh.
To aid in the audience’s suspension of disbelief, Chua would be dropping them right into the middle of the stage. “There is no audience seating: the space has been made into an actual jewellery store, with the audience sitting inside of it as they watch the scenes unfold around them,” he explains.
Due to the unusual use of the performing space, each show can host only about 50 people. Chua elaborates that the actors would sometimes be performing several scenes simultaneously, requiring the audience to decide which character to watch.
“The point is to make the audience feel like they’re viewing from the inside, voyeurs in the lives of others,” he says. Actress Ostella Adam (who plays Micha) points out that it would not be an interactive performance though. “Don’t feed the actors!” she giggles.
Adam says that, like her jewellery shop, there was more to Misha than meets the eye. While not wanting to spoil the surprise, she reveals that jewellery shops tend to be a good place to observe the politics of gender up close. “There’s an old adage that goes ‘when women go to buy socks, they end up buying an outfit to go with the socks. When men go to buy socks, they just buy socks’. This play explores the reasoning why men and women approach shopping differently and how this difference isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” she says.
Chua assures the play is not meant to bash gender stereotypes, even if it does poke fun a bit. Tan Meng Kheng, who plays Henry, agrees with the stereotype that men really are simple creatures. “Men’s thought process stops after two levels. Women think things over like four, five, eight levels!” he half-jokes. He uses the example of how a guy could buy his girlfriend a dress just because he knows she likes the colour red, but without considering if she would like the design and look, or even want a dress in the first place.
He makes a distinction that being decisive does not translate to being sure of what you want. Tan feels that guys sometimes run on “auto-pilot” when deciding, based on what seems like a logical choice than what they personally feel is best for them.
“In this case, Henry has to find a little conviction in his choice, whether it’s an engagement ring or his future wife,” he adds.
> A Little Conviction is playing at the The Canvas, G6-C, Jalan PJU 8/3A, Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya, Selangor at 8.30pm from Nov 27 to Nov 30, with a 3pm matinee on Nov 30 and Dec 1. Tickets are from RM23 to RM38. Tickets call 03-7880 7999 or visit www.ticketpro.com.my. There are also ‘cheap nights’ with a mimimum entry of RM15 at 8.30pm on Nov 23 and Nov 26, and 3.30pm on Nov 26.