‘Cherita Fa So La Ti’ thrills audience in P. Ramlee style

 |Apr 4, 2017
The actors in a physical comedy scene which involved moving large wooden boxes and running around the stage. Muhammed Danial Lee as the time traveller had the most exhilarating scenes of physical comedy.

“Cherita Fa So La Ti”, a loosely adapted two act play, was based on several scenes from P. Ramlee’s movies.

The recent performance thrilled the audience at the PenangPac in Straits Quay, George Town.

There are many directors who drew inspiration from the body of the legendary P. Ramlee’s works and ideas.

Director Yusuf Bakar, a Penangite has many similarities with P. Ramlee.

Both studied in Penang Free School and are inspired by music and drama.

There are two sides of to each story.

The play began with a physical theatre performance.

“Cherita Fa So La Ti” in Malay means the story of Fa, So, La and Ti.

There are four actors in this play.

Ilya Rusaidi (TI) grabs her husband Mohd Wazir M. Bakri (SO) as he lashes out and hit grocery shop owner Muhammed Danial Lee (LA) while the old mother Yuslina Yusof (FA) sits in the background.

In this “Side A”, a comedy; a traveller (Muhammed Danial Lee) journeys back in time in a mission to find P. Ramlee to warn him about his future.

In the midst of his journey, the time traveller gets lost in different time zones and finds out something that would change him forever.

This physical comedy stretches the players’ repertoire with minimalist dialogue and grunts rather than conversations.

The lead actor Muhammed Danial Lee managed to draw guffaws and laughs as he interacts with the other three players in different time relevant roles.

After a 15 minute intermission, the mood changed dramatically and the bubbly exhilarating highs of comedy took a plunge to hit rock bottom lows.

Time traveller Muhammed Danial Lee with Professor Mohd Wazir M. Bakri in the first act.

“Side B” a drama begins with a mother who suffers from dementia.

The old lady has to bear living with her frustrated and exasperated daughter in-law, and vice versa.

In this dysfunctional family set up, whatever is seen as good outwardly is secretly bad.

The actors stretch in their portrayal of the roles, Yuslina Yusof in her role as FA played the old mother to a hilt.

The audience was led to believe that she really “lost” it, when she switched from becoming bewildered, controlling or frightened easily.

FA would rock herself to calm down and sings a P.Ramlee lullaby.

Mohd Wazir M. Bakri as SO is the son who is a rage demon concealed as poor long suffering filal son caring for an aged parent.

Muhammed Danial Lee as LA is the innocent grocery store owner whose life literally turned upside down when the dement FA walked in dazed one afternoon to look for baby milk powder.

New comer Ilya Rusaidi as TI acted well in her role as the scheming daughter-in-law trapped in a bad marriage.

The emotionally charged scene where Mohd Wazir M. Bakri (SO) cradles his mother Yuslina Yusof (FA) and sings a P. Ramlee lullaby to calm her.

The scene when a bewildered FA was calmed by a singing SO drew heaves of sighs from the weeping audience.

The mother and son scene was poignant and bittersweet.

Is life a stage where we only enter to deliver our lines and exit into oblivion?

For the audience it was a roller-coaster ride that they took when they walked in PenangPac Stage 2 for Earth Hour.

In the darkened, on the quiet stage, they too remember and mourned P. Ramlee’s whose life story ends on an equally tragic note.

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Doris Lim is a Malaysia Outlook contributor with a keen eye for details developed form her background in architecture and design. Her affable personality and passion to celebrate life is captured in her stories of the community. Doris’ love for all things beautiful and quirky is tempered by her love for writing, photography, food, art and travel.