“If you are not greedy, you are not Chinese. If you are not backstabbing, you are not Indian. If you are not lazy, ‘sorry’, contented, you are not Malay. If you are not made of all these three, then you are not a Singaporean.”
In MEOW, verbal abuse, physical violence, racism, sexism, and classism are very ugly but demand serious attention. Desperation and loneliness cry out in the midst of communication. MEOW is a marriage from noveau riche hell for a low-class Malay couple.
What would you do when you win a million in the Singapore Big Sweep? The choices are endless, but for some, winning a fortune is as debasing and disorientating as a horrific ordeal in a car on a rainy night. The millionaires, a ‘subaltern Malay couple’: mechanic at a petrol station and a salesgirl, re-enact their childless marriage baiting each other on a never-ending car journey to take food home to their cat. She berates him about his impotency and other inadequacies; he about her besotted behaviour over their cat for whom he had just bought 32 tins of canned food in a cat-food sale.
He loves his job. She loves her cat. But the condominium-bound tabby cannot speak and acts as a silent confidante rather than a high counsel for their marital dilemmas. He suffers from Ailurophobia and intermittently, an obese human-like cat appears in his surrealistic dreams to philosophize and entreat him. The cat proselytizes and conducts a psychiatric test to gauge his sanity. The bizarre ending bursts the septic boil of corrosive morality to leave a raw, ugly, warning wound.
With instant wealth comes subtle change and revelations of desires laid dormant by social circumstances and convenient relationships. Impregnated with strange animal instincts, it is the suppression of savagery that makes us human but occasionally when pushed over the emotive precipice, the beasts emerge snapping and snarling like feral cats. MEOW particularly addresses the cultural and sexual values of the working class couple and brittle hegemony of multi-culturalism and racial tolerance in Singapore.
Exposing issues of class, violence and urban alienation, it gets its teeth into universal themes of cultural alienation and the manifestation of the society’s bankrupted social values in fetishism, racism and impotency.
Presented by Agni Kootthu (Theatre of Fire)
Written & directed by Elangovan
Performed by Dew M Chaiyanara, Faizal Abdullah & Hemang Yadav
Performance in English – Sat 28 & Sun 29 Nov 2009, 8pm The Substation Theatre $20
(Tickets available @ the door from 7 pm)
MDA Advisory: R18 (Coarse Language and Mature Themes)