Friday, May 1, 2009

Keluarga Tut

Last night (30 April) I saw Teater Gandrik Yogyakarta perform their adaptation of Keluarga Tut (The Toth Family) an absurdist comedy by Hungarian writer Istvan Orkeny.

Gandrik, one of the best known theatre groups in Indonesia, is well known for its folky satire and topicality. While Orkney's play is set in Hungary during set in WWII, the Gandrik production routinely references local (Yogyakarta) culture, with frequent semi-improvised comments in a mixture of Javanese and Indonesian. Acting drew upon some of the conventions of kethoprak style clowning.

Briefly the play concerns the visit of an army Major on furlow to the rural house of the Tut family. While initially taken as a great honour, the Major overstays his welcome. The Major drives the Tut family's patriarch to despair after he insists that the family stay up night after night assembling cardboard boxes.

I really liked Djaduk's jazzy live music, appreciated the shadow puppets battle scene that opened the show and enjoyed the comic acting of the leads. But the singing and dancing was rather rather amateur and the pace was plodding (more than 3 hours without an intermission!). I also didn't get many of the jokes pitched at the 'lesehan' audience sitting on the ground in front of the stage, and the jokes I did get weren't all that funny to me. Tired from the Hari Internasional Tari, I found myself dozing off at moments.

There were some definite highlights - one of which was a mime-filled scene in which the Major and Tut family patriarch sat down together for a man-to-man chat in the latrine. Tut sprays the toilet basin first and tells the Major that it is all clean. The Major feigns shock though when he sees there is still a lombok in the basin. Tut picks it out and pops it in his mouth, saying 'tidak pedas' (not too hot) as he chews on it.

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