We are big fans of Fa Abdul, who describes herself as “Storyteller. Playwright. Columnist. TV Scriptwriter. Producer. Facebooker. Photographer. Loner.” Her deeply insightful commentaries about the Malaysian psyche are what make her now long-running “Tales” series of plays so funny and yet so thought-provoking at the same time.
Over the last year or two we have already enjoyed Tales from the Bedroom, Tales from the Mamak, and Tales from Amma’s Kitchen here in Penang. Coming up in December is the latest, Tales from the Jamban. Jamban means Toilet for those who don’t speak Malay. Why the toilet? Well as Fa notes “People do not only visit the toilet to drop their “bombs”. If you try sitting quietly in a public toilet cubicle, you will see all the extraordinary things that takes place within the confines of the stinky four-walls of a Malaysian jamban.”
Tales from the Jamban, like the previous Tales, consists of ten short stories, each set in a local toilet, covering “disgusting toilet antics, rip-roaring scenarios, poignant moments and unconventional advice”. The Penang edition of these Tales will be quite different from the version which ran in KL last year, and featured plays from writers other than Fa. This one has been entirely written and directed by her. But to give an idea of the tone, the KL edition featured one play about custom-made toilet bowls for different races; a Malay toilet that could fit four wives and ten children, a Chinese toilet that dispenses tissue paper and an Indian toilet that comes with a left hand. The plays are intended to have the audience falling off their seats with laughter, but also to remind them that they should be looking beyond race and religious issues in Malaysia. It’s a fine line, and some content may be offensive to some people. But most will enjoy the self-deprecatory humour, the spectacle of Malaysian society examining itself in the mirror and making fun of its own typical preoccupations. Expect also to hear a lot of English, but also Bahasa, Manglish, Hokkien and Tamil, just as in real life.
Tales from the Jamban stars some of the best actors in Penang such as Ivan Gabriel and Philip Yeoh, and will also introduce new talent to the stage. The show runs at penangpac, Straits Quay, from Thursday December 13th to Sunday December 16th 2018, with shows every day at 8.30pm and additional shows at 3pm on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost RM 45 and can be purchased at penangpac’s box office (04 899 1722 )or online at https://proticket.com.my/penangpac-tales-from-the-jamban/