Leaving a crowded 3sixty late on a Friday night, I have to say that RUMBSA’s production of The Terminal was an evening to remember. Many people of different cultures came to the event and enjoyed a ‘taster’ of the homes of many here at the University of Reading.
Having spent much of my time in Malaysia (my home away from home), The Terminal allowed me to be temporarily whisked back to a place where all sentences end in ‘lah’, everyone calls each other ‘Uncle’ or ‘Auntie’ and it is too hot to try anything but live. I was enthused to find nasi lemak, a traditional dish, sold at the performance; a fine choice for the evening. It was a spicy treat for anyone who hasn’t had the dish before, and a lovely meal for all those who find familiarity in the smells and tastes of the exotic platter.
The show itself was full of laughs (including the good old fashioned “Sei!”s) and drama. The story is centered on Hannah, played by Angela Hii, a young Malay girl who dares to run from the traditional lifestyle and her father Ibrahim. Played by Harith Khan, this man is best described as an exceptionally controlling father who will do anything, including setting up an elaborate proposal, to keep his daughter nearby after the death of his wife. Hannah befriends a young and fun-loving Chinese boy named Jit Weng despite her family’s wishes and that of another man-hunk-Zak Efron-type-looking love interest—Arif.
Hii puts on a good fight taking over the role several days before the show after the original lead, Jasmeet Kaur, had taken ill. She has a cool demeanor although it’s clear she does not feel the utmost comfortable on stage. Khan on the other hand easily shows his heart on his sleeve by playing an angry desperate father in the many scenes with a permanent scowl on his face, and a noticeable dandruff problem on his head.
Although this was not a production in which acting was very strong, there were several notable talents on stage. Firstly, the MC’s were awkward but sweet in the most charming of ways. By introducing the play and making short announcements, they were the glue that kept the show alive. Also, Jia-Ting Chua who played Jit, was exceptionally dashing. With his performance, the care-free personality in his character really shone through; by far the best actor of the night. Oddly enough, although a completely minor character, Arif’s best friend Adib, played by Derrick Lee proved to be entertaining in his rendition of High School Musical’s “Breaking Free”.
It is obvious that both writers Hii and Khan lack experience in writing a play. Each of the character’s names was said about every other sentence, the characters are fairly shallow and the plot is resolved too quickly. However, the ambience was nostalgic enough to be its saving grace. If you put your thoughts of a professional show aside, an evening spent with friends thinking of home is always a good one. A good effort to RUMBSA for putting The Terminal together, it was definitely a lovely experience.