Alfian Saat's brilliantly observant 2009 play, Nadirah questions the emotional-rational binary when navigating the spiritual minefield of Islam in the multicultural society found in Singapore and by extension Malaysia today.  Having played to sellout audiences and much critical acclaim; harvesting a clutch of awards in both Singapore and Malaysia; Nadirah played this past weekend—November 11 to 13—to a new global audience at Japan's leading performance arts festival, the Tokyo Festival 2016, as part of their Asia Series.

 

Director Jo Kukathas helmed The Instant Café Theatre Company's first invitation to Japan with a layered and valuable examination of the peculiarities and pain of inter-faith marriages; resonating with the political undertones, stippled with the social nuances so often present in her work. Having missed the last staging of Nadirah in KL in 2012 and with Tokyo being an impossibility this past weekend, I was privileged to watch final rehearsals in KL last week.

 

A spare stage gives way to a masterpiece of total theatre. In this intimate space, intimate issues loom large—the spectrum of faith, the riddle of human relationships, is presented so bravely, just beautifully by Nadirah (Sharifah Amani)—the offspring of her Malay-Malaysian father and her Singaporean-Chinese Muslim-convert mother Sahirah (a quietly lucent Neo Swee Lin). The story is not theirs alone but also one broadened by the outstanding supporting cast of  Farouk (another top-notch performance by the very fine Iedil Putra),  Maznah (a dazzling Farah Rani) and Robert (the always excellent Patrick Teoh). So much to be proud of with this important conversation we have so often and yet perhaps sometimes still not audibly enough, on coexistence and the celebration of our differences in contemporary Malaysian society.

 

An Important Message from the  ICTC:

Instant Cafe has always been able to make the work we feel is necessary and important because of the generous support of the public. We hope that following our tour in Tokyo,  Nadirah can be restaged in KL. Contributions  and support are welcome to facilitate this restaging. Please email instantcafe@gmail.com for details.