All images credit I’M Entertainment

Not many shows could elicit a deep emotion in me. But this particular play co-produced by Michelle Tan and Ian Nathaniel did.

I heard sniffles. I don’t know if it was someone developing a flu or because the performance was an emotional roller-coaster.

From where I sat, two from the audience bent forward from their seats: one ran a quick finger across his eyes, the second person used the t-shirt collar.

A few nodded in agreement when a character voiced his support that boys can and do cry.

Directed by the amazing Alia Kearney, Silk & Strings: The Truth of Bullying is a joint effort by Befrienders KL and I’M Entertainment to highlight the uncomfortable truths about bullying.

They covered different forms of bullying such as cyber bullying, physical abuse, bullying in workplace and families, even taking it up a notch to religious bullying. Included for a good measure was the bystander effect.

The Bystander Effect. Image sourced.

Interestingly, the idea for the play came about during one of the rehearsals of I’M Entertainment’s previous production, ‘the Retreat: a new whodunit play’.

Alia had posed the following question to the cast and crew; “Were you bullied when in school?”

Were you bullied? Image credit: Mariamlisa

Perhaps the honest answers were what made the production relevant, relatable and stirred emotions from the audience, according to Alia.

Other than using dialogues and monologues to tell the story, the characters utilized contemporary dance fused with the classical style of the Bharatanatyam.

Ashvinder Kaur successfully managed to managed to express the helplessness and anger faced by her character through the dance which was accompanied by Mariamlisa Zainal Abidin.

Mariamlisa’s excellent cello playing skills assisted greatly in the setting up of the mood for the entire production and definitely tugged the hearts of a few members of the audience – me included.

Dhinesha Karthigesu’s script starts with the bullying of the character Reena (played by Riena Aisya) in school by her school mates.

Part ensemble piece and part device theatre, the play also made excellent use of lighting and yes, silk!

The most profound moment was when the casts held lights in their hands, symbolising our smartphones while Riena’s character represented our fervent use of social media platforms.

The varied careers of the six individuals root the play in reality.

They comprised of a businesswoman named Karen (Annna Neo), a teacher named Mohan (Perassath), a social media influencer or Youtuber named Smiliesxbunnies (Lee Min Hui), a plastic surgeon named Rasheela (Ranessa Theyakaraja), a child in an abusive home named Shanti (Ashvinder Kaur) and last but not least, Reena’s close friend, Lisa (Nik Waheeda).

Overall, I really liked that the play wasn’t a cliché in terms of plot and character development.

The actors didn’t try hard to be dramatic. What I enjoyed the most was the fact that the intensity of the emotions from the characters naturally grew and evolved as their journey progressed from start to end.

Silk & Strings: The Truth of Bullying is being staged from November 2nd to the 5th and November 9th til 12th at Twenty20Two, PJ. You can also catch them in Johor Bahru on November 25th and 26th. Tickets can be purchased here

Psst! Use promo code #dearmentalhealth to get RM10 off tickets, except for Befrienders Night. You can also win some tickets by pledging a certain amount on Silk & Strings Generosity by Indiegogo page. The proceeds may help bring this show on a national tour to schools, education establishments, offices, and on an international stage. If you need emotional support or someone to talk to, call the 24-hours hotline 03-79568145 or email sam@befrienders.org.my