REVIEW: THE RETREAT (Theatre)

performing arts, Reviews

I managed to catch the last showing of this dark twisted and brilliant play on Sunday night. Now even with a familiar face in the cast, I promise to be completely honest in my review of this whodunit play.

I was unprepared to be mentally affected by the lights and sounds of this production. Kudos to the sound manager for the realistic storm that haunted the space, not to mention the use of the 360-ish stage and the film noir feel the production delivered almost too perfectly.

The setting of the stage itself was very simple yet it felt complex with the movement of the storyline.

As for the story, I loved that there was a clear difference in the mood setting between the acts itself to the thoughts being spoken by the main character, Gina.

This play was casted with 6 main characters, but the additional sound effects from a seated character made the anxiety within me jump and half await for the next screech she’d yell out in between the dialogs on stage – that being said, I noticed a pattern in the yelling that got old by the middle of the second act.

One thing was for sure, this play was not a family show. Profanities were a big part of the script. Frankly, it was refreshing… too many shows lately are censored or restricted to a point where the characters lose their spark. It was an interesting interpretation of PTSD and representation of mental illness patients, however the doctor’s character could have less of a biased personality when he appeared in flashback scenes. I felt that he was sneaky and sly in the way he talked to the other characters, almost as if he was judgmental towards them.

My favorite characters were the nervous patient named Grace, her outbursts and jittery personality somehow resonated at a personal level; and Charlie, the promiscuous companion woman in her lace corset and no filter one liners. As for Charlie’s love interest, Josh was a character I loved to hate – this sentiment was echoed by other members of the audience when I chatted with them during intermission.

I loved the diversity and the idea behind the storylines itself, but like a lot of my reviews, there are cons to this production.

I don’t know exactly whether it was intentional to have the time and place to be set so ambiguously – having the character’s being Asian with western-ish names was unsettling but this may just be my opinion.

Other than that I think the location itself at Twenty2two was a miss – even with the map out it was complicated to exit the housing area the show was surrounded by.

I think it’s safe to say that this was definitely a great show, unfortunately it only ran until last week – even though I would not watch it twice for my own personal mental health. Would I recommend others to watch it if it ran again? Yes, definitely.

I look forward to catch more works from the creators and cast!

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REVIEW: American Gods

Reviews

DISCLAIMER: There are potential spoilers in this piece – also this is purely my opinion so take it with a grain of salt if you do not feel the same way. 

A few weeks late into the finale, I was awed by how relevant this show is to today’s world. Being online 80% of my life awake, I have to admit that I succumbed to the gods of technology that occasionally enslaves us through media – which just happens to be portrayed as a newer Goddess in the show.

I jumped into the series without prior reading on the plot, based on the suggestion of my friends I was intrigued on the delivery of characters and their progression through the first season (Yes, I finished the season on one sitting! my dedication to this review is ridiculous!).

Okay where do I start? Let’s break down the characters and relationships within the show…

  1. Shadow & Wednesday: This bromance bothers me… mostly because Mr. Wednesday is a twisted character that uses Shadow’s grief and confusion of his new freedom for his gain… why Shadow is such an important character is yet to be known even through the finale. But one thing is clear, something is up with the existence of Mr. Moon. Even with his criminal history, he plays the part of an anti protagonist that somehow floats around the plot. While his story is significant to his character, I found Shadow close to irrelevant. However, kudos to Starz for making the lead character one of color.
  2. Shadow & Dead Wife: Again, here Shadow seems to me like a lost puppy being so gullible that he doesn’t recognize danger when she’s between his legs. I get that love is blind, but when you’re basically in a relationship with sociopath that calls you her pet… something should have rang the alarm in your head to get out.
  3. Dead Wife & Mad Sweeney: Now I’ve loved Sweeney since his first appearance, to be a tall mad leprechaun is going against the initial information we’re given about these fairy folk creatures, in the episode that shows his somewhat back story, it focused on his relationship with an Irish girl name Essie. Maid turned thief turned rape victim turned honest wife… the turn of events lead by this Essie character which is portrayed by the same actress as the Dead Wife. It’s one of the sweeter stories delivered in the season and it gave me a shooting chance at forgiving the Dead Wife. We’ll just have to see what happens in season 2
  4. Salim & The Jinn: This couple at the beginning of the show was a delightful representation of the LGBT community as well as Muslim, I understand that there was a lot of controversy when first shown, but the storyline behind them is – in my eyes – a sweet yet toxic arrangement. Does it end well? We still don’t know! The season ended with Salim seeking to find The Jinn again.

Now here’s a list of my favorite characters through season 1:

  1. Bilquis: this lady has it going on hard and freaky! I was told before her episode explaining the life she went through with the change of times, that her story is a sad one… the forgotten queen until social media and the rise of technology made it easier to gain followers again. I love how crazy scary she is and how dominating her personality is – even with her flaws (specifically her bedside manners!).
  2. Mad Sweeney: See above for details or better yet watch his episode! Yes, his rough exterior and rugged personality starts off as annoying but he’ll grow on you.
  3. Mr. Nancy: he’ll be narrating a few of the stories, but also his debut in the series was when he casually tricked a group of slaves to kill themselves along with their masters – you’ll never bore of this trickster. Side note: I notice what you did with his name, Starz… from the origins of Anansi to Mr. Nancy.

I can go into details on other characters but I really don’t want to be the one that spoils this show for you. When you have the time, go watch it! I was inspired to go further into the backstories and origins of the lore that was represented in the series.

If there’s anything this show deserves an A+ for, it’s the diversity of it’s characters and the initial research put into them. I mean, gods and goddesses becoming immigrants in America? Brilliant!

Comment your thoughts and favorite characters or suggest something for me to review next!

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Tablao Flamenco: The Art of Gypsies

performing arts, Reviews

Enjoy a full bodied glass of wine, share small plates of olives and cheese with your lover, and feel the music run through your person as you hear the beat of the percussion complimenting the tapping sounds of the dancer’s feet on the floor board cause in that moment you’re living the gypsy life as you witness the passion and fury of the flamenco.

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Replacing the cabarets in cafes around Spain, the 1960s was the turning point to when the flamenco soared beyond it’s origin of Andalusia. To enjoy it is an activity that has been modernized even in it’s mainland of Spaniards; but to live it as an audience is an honor – an opportunity you can experience this week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!

I was beyond excited to be given the chance to be seated front where my heart beat with every clap and string of the guitars played in the 8 artists ensemble. Seeing it for the first time live in front of me felt like falling in love with a dangerous lover.

Origen Flamenco was brought into town after a night of music among friends and was greeted warmly as Spain and Malaysia celebrate their 50th year of diplomatic ties. While I did not have the privilege to speak to the ambassador as he sat 5 feet away from my stool, it showed on his face that he felt at home while being thousands of miles away from his home country. I did however get a picture with him and the (very good looking) cast!

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I urge those who are art enthusiasts to go see them at KLPAC this Wednesday the 12th and Thursday the 13th of July 2017. Tickets are available http://www.ticketpro.com.my so hurry and order them online because the crew did let me know that it is an intimate setting as the art should be.

Join the gypsies in conversation while you witness the embodiment of passion! If you miss them in KL don’t fret they’ll be back in Malaysia at the Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival!

 

REVIEW: OKJA, a nightmare in motion.

opinions, Reviews, Uncategorized

It’s been a minute since I watched something that moved me in the way that Netflix’s original movie OKJA did. Before even going in depth why you should watch this movie, I would like to hand over all the awards including most horrific triggering movie of the year.

Disclaimer: there are potential spoilers in this piece – also this is purely my opinion so take it with a grain of salt if you do not feel the same way. 

I watched OKJA over the weekend with my friend, and thankfully someone was there because this movie is not something you’d want to watch alone (I made that mistake with Get Out). Personally, I try my best to leave as little carbon footprint unless it’s for a better; as a person in the creative industry I hold a belief that whatever you do should answer the question of WHY you’re doing what you do. Many people forget that there’s more to life than just creating content for monetary purposes.

The team and director behind this movie definitely had their purpose of letting the nightmare of animal abuse known to the public delivered with flying colors. It was both exhilarating to watch as it was horrifying. In one particular scene (and you’d know which scene I’m talking about) had me shaken until even now, the portrayal of innocence in Okja and Mija’s relationship was complete obliterated by this scene.

I can’t imagine how the people behind this must’ve felt within the research and execution of the movie because as it’s audience it triggered an ongoing nightmare of the reality that the science behind the story was based on real life actions by corporate animal farms.

As for the characters in the movie, I can’t find the words to describe the diversity. I love that this was not in English nor was it led by a caucasian award winner. Yes, Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, and a few other known actors and actresses were a part of the cast, but how they adapted to the characters they held was more than an award winning act. Swinton’s character completely erased her real life personality – same goes with former heartthrob Gyllenhaal who’s character is a washed up media personality that seems to be going in an existential psychotic crisis.

Paul Dano and Lily Collins were additional protagonist characters that played hero to animals in the movie. I absolutely loved the choreographed anti-fight scenes.

The storyline itself is simple – then again most of the best movies are. It’s a love story of a girl and her pet super pig; however this is not a family movie.

What made this movie so impactful to me is the delivery of this story not being in a post apocalypse time but in today’s world. The fictional animal made it easier to make an emotional connection compared to the regular pig or cow; however the true point being delivered is that you can replace Okja to your common cow, pig, buffalo, etc. and you’re watching a documentary that just happened to end well for the characters leading the movie.

Was I satisfied by the ending? Yes and no. I realize it’s improper to end a meaningful movie with a sugarcoated happy ending – but to see in the prolog that Okja is merely one of thousands that was saved… it was still heartbreaking.

Should you watch this movie? 100% YESS. 

Hostel Review: 60’s Hostel and 30 hours trip to Singapore

opinions, Reviews, Travel

I would like to begin this with a disclaimer: This is my opinion alone; it does not, nor should it reflect upon the hostel’s staff or facilities.

I’ve been to Singapore numerous times… but none of my trips has been as unpleasant as this one (of course, there were unpleasant trips with my family – but discuss that would require a whole bottle of wine). So typically I knew what to expect from the locals, however… being a single woman traveling it’s typically as dangerous as you put yourself in any situation.

Now, my experience for this trip…. how do I begin?

I started my journey in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. If you want a semi comfortable trip that won’t cost you an arm or a leg… take the First Coach bus. They will give you the option of buying a return trip at the KL office, it will cost you RM140 – the alternative is to buy the return ticket in Singapore for three times the price (S$25).

Now you’ll arrive in Novena Square, this would be a great location if you arrive before the MRT closes – I didn’t. My bus arrived at 11.59pm, thankfully the Oasia Hotel allowed me to book Grab from their lobby app.

From there, I took the car to Mustafha Centre where I exchanged my ringgit currency to Singapore Dollar. Please do this before you board your bus if you are taking the night bus!

From there my original plan was to stay at Mori Inn, now I say it was my original plan because like everything on this unplanned trip, the hostel’s attendee was not there to greet me though I mentioned in my email that I would be arriving after midnight. Their hostel reception only opens until 11pm. Being nearby Serangoon Rd, there was plenty of hostels around such as The Hive and the one next to it that I couldn’t bother to remember it’s name because both hostels were fully occupied.

Which led me to the creation of this post, 60s Hostel is located roughly 60feet across the road from The Hive Hostel. It had a bed free of occupancy but it did cost double what I was going to pay at Mori Inn – which to be frank would have been a better choice if I can say so myself.

Now, I was tired from the 300m walk from Mustafha Centre as well as the 6hour bus ride. So I said fine. Paid, and moved my stuff to bed no 8 across to the reason why I would say this trip is unpleasant.

Ross* was a (many years older) middle age American, at first he seemed to be one of those over talkative grandfather types of men – being around my dad’s friends a lot, I was used to the type. But then he started to overshare about his 6 failed marriages, 7 grown ass children, and 15 grandchildren. I wouldn’t be ranting if he stopped there, but he did not… Ross continued to describe his ex wives and other lovers’ mating style and how they performed in bed. mind you this was close to 2 in the morning… I was not only uncomfortable and disgusted, but also tired as fuck.

After I dismissed Ross with the curtain of my bunk bed, I headed outside for some air. The Indian club next door was still pumping Bollywood music at 3am – not my style of ambience but hey, it gave my night *more* personality.

It was then when a middle aged Indonesian woman came home with a bag of what I assume to be snacks, that she suggested I request a bunk move; her maid was allegedly harassed by Ross asking for oral compensation. Apparently, he had been staying there since November. So of course, naturally I followed a legit and logical advise and was moved to the second room that was occupied with her travel mates. It didn’t take me long to know that I had to move because with this trip being short and hectic, I did not have any patience for surprises.

I slept around 4am after playing this addictive game and woke around 9.45am just in time to get ready before checkout at 11am. The bunk beds were wood based, pillows were very thin, and blanket was the basic $5 blanket from IKEA. I did not enjoy my sleep – and I’m the type who can sleep on a MRT seat.

60’s Hostel has 2 toilet/shower rooms; basic utilities like a bidet was a godsend because people who know Singapore toilets, know that they don’t usually come with an ass blaster ( a term the American IT guy from Vietnam came up with when I was there last November). The hostel I had stayed at in Saigon, was so much cleaner than 60’s Hostel – with a third of the price for 3 nights. I am sad to say that the bathroom at 60’s Hostel was just average. Because of the size of the shower/toilet room, it was hard to get dressed and the tiles were the type that was constantly wet.

Now people whom know me personally, know that I’m a klutz. So I slipped and injured my tush and wrist. I would suggest the management put the effort of getting a non slip mat for the bathrooms.

Overall my stay at 60’s Hostel was a below average experience at most. Would I stay there again? Unlikely. Is the management mostly to blame? You decide that for yourself.

After checkout, I went off on my way to the MRT station towards Woodlands; I wanted to meet my mentor in Johor and took advantage of my curiosity to pass through the border that way. I was impressed at the efficiency of all of it, though if I may suggest something, it would be for the immigration to open more gates instead of just having 4 when there was a high lunch traffic. After passing through the Singapore checkpoint, you’ll be able to find yourself going down an escalator to where the buses that will bring you to the Johor checkpoint. If you take the non-MRT bus it should just be RM3. The guy manning the bus pretty much didn’t care because he was already paid by many others.

A short 5 minute ride will lead you to the JB Central checkpoint, fairly simple. After they stamp your passport you’ll easily find yourself in the city centre. Earlier I mentioned that the First Coach bus offers return tickets, after this experience it really depends if you want to adventure your way back to KL the way I did. I found that it goes down to roughly the same pricing.

From Johor your bus to KL will be from the Larkin terminal to the TBS Station in Sungai Besi. I’m sure there were other options but I was too tired (and lazy) to search. The price from Larkin to TBS is RM35. That’s RM50 cheaper than to go from Novena to Bangsar.

The choice is up to you and this post is getting way too long.

Overall, I would just like to say to girls if you’re traveling alone, stay safe.

If you’re gut tells you to move your bunk, move. If you have a streak of adventure, go for it.  If you’re going on a night bus, change your money beforehand… and lastly, have snacks ready at all times!

Reporting back from the comfort of my sweatpants and blanket. Goodnight!

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