The Bee is the worst Malaysian theatre show right now. Here’s why.

The Bee by Hideki Noda and Colin Teevan is the latest offering from Theatresauce, a local theatre company that thinks long titles make better shows. For the sake of my time and keyboard, I’ll be referring to the show as The Bee for the rest of this review.

I caught their opening night on Feb 1, where the cast performed to a full house of audience members who were unfortunate enough to have bought tickets without first reading a review.

To make it easier for you to see how bad this show is, 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 self-indulgent thoughts and observations

While I would rather spend the 70-minute or so runtime watching paint dry, my co-writer enjoyed the show a lot more than I did. You can read his review here

The poster

Despite the text covering every available space on the poster, I managed to spot a line at the top which says The Bee is based off a short story written in the 1970’s. This usually indicates one thing – outdated references and/or cringeworthy attempts at making it more modern.

An actual bee is also included, just so no one questions why it’s called The Bee.

Despite the huge amounts of text, the poster doesn’t actually contain the only piece of information I would have found useful – What language the show is in.

The show

I should warn you that this section contains spoilers, not that there’s too much to spoil.

As you walk in, you’ll be met with the main character (Ido) in a slow-motion walk against a backdrop made out of connected hexagons which (I’m guessing) is meant to represent a honeycomb. Just in case you forgot the show is called The Bee.

Storywise, a stereotypical Japanese office worker discovers that his wife and son have been held hostage by an escaped convict, so he takes the convicts wife and son hostage in retaliation; leading to a Mexican standoff.

The cast includes a bumbling detective, intrusive paparazzi, and dysfunctional family members – all the elements you need for a plot that’s dark, comedic, and quirky in the same way a 15-year old  would consider Linkin Park to be edgy and hardcore.

Throw in a couple of plot twists and you’ll spend the second half of the show wondering:

How far the Salaryman go to get his family back?

Will his actions affect what the convict does to his own family?

At what point will the audience figure out how the story ends and start counting the hexagons on the stage?

I counted 53.

General thoughts and observations

Usually, a sign that a show is trying too hard to be artistic is when you start seeing unnecessary dance sequences, or actors repeating certain lines or movements. But The Bee is better than that.

It incorporates BOTH dance and repetition, both equally unnecessary.

This ties in with the other issue about the play, which is that it’s really, really, REALLY outdated. While I can understand how it’s a satirical view on social issues, these issues were probably more meaningful to Japanese society back in the 70’s. With today’s Facebooking audience, watching The Bee for social commentary is like listening to someone make Miley Cyrus references in 2018.

Don’t get me wrong – every show has some central theme that’ll leave some form of impact on you, and The Bee’s plot twist will come in like a wrecking ball, shocking you into asking philosophical questions like “What makes Man evil” or “Are we a product of our society”. Unfortunately, the need to be “artistic” and “quirky” results in repeating the shock value to the point that the only question you’ll be asking is “I wonder how many hexagons are there on the stage?”

The hexagon joke, coupled with the use of words like “artistic” and “quirky” leads to the biggest problem with this review – Repetition.

If there’s one positive thing I can say about The Bee, it’ll be the performance, especially the casts’ ability to mime certain props like boom mics and news cameras with clear, sharp movements. Picturing them holding random objects provided me with the only entertainment for the night.

Best moment of the show

The scene where all the actors appeared on stage in formation and bent forward.

Oh wait, that was the end of the show.

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

….but why would you?

Overall rating:

This rating was brought to you by the letter B, for Boycott.

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