If you could find a way to extract, purify and condense the crude, coarse humour of every diehard Singaporean kopitiam connoisseur with coffee-stained teeth and darkened gums, you’d get one half of Meenah And Cheenah’s heady concoction of razor sharp humour. Distil one potent teaspoon of deadly sarcasm from a makcik in Geylang selling goreng pisang and mix it together with the crystalized essence of an ah lian’s crude sense of speech. Blend all these ingredients together with the collective experience of living in Singapore’s dense social ecosystem, and you’ll end up with a play so funny it’ll leave you in stitches for weeks.
Featuring Siti Khalijah and Judee Tan, Dream Academy’s Meenah And Cheenah is one local production you don’t want to miss out on. Written by decorated playwright Alfian Sa’at, the play is a series of sketches describing the tenuous friendship between a meenah and a cheenah in its different forms and intensities. To loosely quote an expression used in the play, it was so crazy I could have had my breasts slip out from all that havoc on stage. This alone should reassure you of any doubts about catching it before the end of its run.
Siti and Judee carried out their parts as executors of Alfian Sa’at’s comical endeavours, without so much as a step out of place. Both actresses juggled several sketches by fluctuating their mannerisms and character quirks with laser-sharp precision in between scenes. From two preteens on the cusp of puberty fawning over a mutual love interest to eccentric office ladies sharing a table at dinner time, each scene gave ample opportunity for our comedic veterans to feed off of each other and bring some of Singapore’s craziest characters to life. Some scenes left me in stitches at how painfully accurate certain clichés were, whereas other scenes pushed certain stereotypes to the moon and back.
What really gives each sketch its own flavour lies in how raw and blunt the portrayal of certain stereotypes were. Whether you identify with the labels or grew up knowing certain people who embody the spirit of meenahs and cheenahs alike, you’re bound to feel an entire symphony resonate from within with the play’s relatable humour. The witty quips and snappy repartees masterfully exchanged between our two leading ladies share the same vein of pseudo-offensive thoughts that cross our minds every other day, thoughts that rarely ever bypass the “humour blood-brain barrier” and never get expressed. Unabashed, high-spirited and undeniably accurate, Meenah And Cheenah tells the jokes we wish people said out loud more often.
To be able to laugh at oneself is said to be the mark of true resilience, and Meenah And Cheenah’s message is exactly that: we Singaporeans of diverse racial backgrounds have the ability to openly discuss anything, even our own observations of each other’s quirky practices, so long as we decide to put things like malicious prejudice aside and address things for what they really are. I highly recommend that you jio all your meenah friends from Woodlands and every single one of your ah lian sisters from Toa Payoh all the way to Pasir Ris to a good time at the theatre this week.
Meenah And Cheenah will open an additional show on 22 May 2016 at 8pm, and tickets are going for $50 onwards. Be sure to make use of the on-going promotion of four tickets for the price of three promotion (limited tickets available). Tickets can be purchased at SISTIC.
Photo credits: Dream Academy