Here’s why The Bee is a must-watch piece of Malaysian theatre

The Bee by Hideki Noda and Colin Teevan is a show by Theatresauce that opened on Feb 1 at klpac and runs till Sunday, Feb 11.

Bee-fore we head any further into the show itself, I should mention that I manage social media campaigns for Theatresauce. However, I was not involved in the creative process and watched it for the first time on their Feb 1 opening night.

As I’m experiencing the show with (arguably) fresh eyes, I’ll be rating it on the following criteria:

  • Initial expectations from information available on the poster
  • The experience from actually watching the show
  • Any additional thoughts and observations

While I thought this show had more highs than lows, my co-writer wasn’t a fan. You can read his review here

The poster

The Bee sort of takes a different route from most theatre posters by not depicting the actual cast members. Instead, it uses a manga-esque drawing to hint at a dark turn in the story.

It would also be safe to assume that the show is inspired by manga and anime, or at least contain some references to them.

The show

This section contains possible spoilers

The Bee sets the mood for audiences arriving early by having the main character (Ido) doing a slow motion walk-on-the-spot against a backdrop that resembles a honeycomb – slightly offbeat, but oddly relaxing to look at.

This atmosphere is broken the moment the play starts, with Ido being informed that his family has been held hostage by an escaped convict. Through a series of events involving a bumbling detective, Ido ends up holding the escaped convict’s family hostage.

What ensues is a standoff between Ido and the escaped convict, as they each resort to increasingly extreme methods to convince the other to give in and release their respective family members. No holds are barred here – whatever horror that you’re imagining will be inflicted on the family members as you read this, you’ll probably see it in the show.

A powerless police force and an over-eager pair of news reporters looking for the next big scoop in the crisis makes things worse, though not for the audience as they provide most of the comedic moments that lighten what would otherwise be a dark play.

General thoughts and observations

If I can sum The Bee up in one word, it would be Imagination.

While it isn’t completely abstract or artsy-fartsy as some people might call it, The Bee stretches the imagination by using repetition and various artistic methods to depict some of the more morbid or harrowing scenes. There are also some random “break-reality” moments where the characters start dancing, but I think none of this would be too hard to digest if you’ve been exposed to manga, anime, or just very weird Japanese movies.

The audience also mainly sees what happens from Ido’s perspective, so what actually happens to Ido’s family members are left up to the imagination. Considering that Ido and the escaped convict are essentially opposite mirror images of one another – to the point that their sons share the same age and birthday – perhaps it’s what you don’t see that’s more disturbing.

Unfortunately, the journey ends with a bumpy landing. Despite the cast being more than able to carry the show with their performance, The Bee’s story pacing isn’t the best, and I expect the last 10 minutes to be a like-it-or-hate-it moment for many audience members.

Best moment of the show

When Ido and his hostages are “watching” a variety show on TV, and a cast member sings a Japanese rendition of My Way.

The performance, lighting, and the cabaret-style atmosphere is something that I wouldn’t mind watching as a full performance.

How to get tickets

You can buy tickets online or by calling the Klpac Box Office at +603-4047 9000. Tickets are RM58 (Regular) or RM48 (Concession) with a Buy 3-Free-1 offer. You can catch the show at the following times:

WEEK 1: Thu, Feb 1 – Sat, Feb 3 @ 8.30 pm; Sun, Feb 4 @ 3.00 pm
WEEK 2: Wed, Feb 7 – Sat, Feb 10 @ 8.30 pm; Sun, Feb 11 @ 3.00 pm

Overall rating:

7.5/10

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