Riders Know When It's Gonna Rain & Hawa (2016), Review

2 minutes read
Riders Know When It's Gonna Rain
2 July 2016, 8:00pm


Double-Bill: Riders Know When It’s Gonna Rain & Hawa

It may be easy to label these two plays as essentially Malay plays, centred on Malay and Islamic issues in Singapore. However, the two plays, presented as a double-bill, are much more than the race and religion they appear to represent.

Riders Know When It’s Gonna Rain attempts to expose the ‘Mat Moto’ subculture to a wider audience. It strives to get people to understand the mentality of Malay motorcyclists on the road, and issues they face off the road. The play follows four best friends from the day they got their 2B riding licences, through multiple skids and accidents and hospital stays, until one major crash that ends with a fatality.

The scenes are all a tad under-developed, too short for the emotions of the characters to build up, and often snaps at an anti-climax. When the story fails to unravel itself through the dialogues, characters are then given awkward and unnecessary expository monologues. The actors were rather casual in their performance throughout. They occasionally lack the energy to project their voices, even in over-the-top scenes in which their characters are arguing with each other.

Perhaps, rather unfair in comparison, Hawa (which both refers to the Quranic Eve and the female gender) is a far more nuanced piece.

Hawa brings together alternative views on Islam as a religion, and female homosexuality. Siti (played by Koh Wan Ching) is a recent convert, and is faced with having to settle the funeral rites of her deceased partner. In the span of half a day, she struggles between fulfilling the duty of being the only next-of-kin and the demands of her new religion. Then come Ahmad (Saiful Amri), the funeral services director with a fabulous sense of dark humour, and Zaki (Al-Matin Yatim), a funeral gatecrasher of sorts. The three are embroiled in conversations about life, the after-life, religious obligations, and religion rights, in a convivial but non-diminutive manner.

The actors play the respective characters with conviction, making them believable and relatable. Koh, as Siti, manages to present her frustrations and worries without coming across as unreasonable. Yatim as the endearing Zaki who goes to strangers’ funerals to “provide comfort to (our) veiled sisters” is so wrong, but nonetheless charmingly portrayed.

Marketing the two shows as a double-bill calls for unnecessary comparisons. The three-hour run time of the two plays also tests the audiences’ patience. No matter how good the plays were, there was a slightly audible collective sigh of relief heard at the end of the evening.

productions & stagings