Losertown, a theatrical experience which turned musicals on its head, was loud, in-your-face entertainment.
I enjoyed it in most parts.
Comedienne Hannan Azlan showcased her strong songwriting talent in the two-hour performance, with original lyrics about, basically, why she thinks she is a loser.
Since it was performed in a small room on the top-most floor of the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre in Sentul, Losertown had an immersive feel with the musicians and Hannan giving vignettes of why they are not heroes, aka losers.
Hannan dragged a mattress from one end to the other of the cramped “stage” as she took us through tales of being a loser, going through depression, all through soulful lyrics, set to rock beats.
The juxtaposition of Hanna’s wail against the rollicking music elevated the angst in the young artiste’s voice. She doesn’t have the best voice, but it conveyed emotions that were at times heart-wrenching.
The musicians — Coebar Abel, Endee Ahmad, drummer Ian Francis Khoo and Khairil Imran – brought their own styles to the theatrical performance, offering the small audience of maybe 30 people at a time the chance to get to know these backroom boys. They were all so cool, and singers in their own right, like Endee Ahmad.
Losertown felt like a fringe event at major arts festivals, and fringe events are always fascinating for that experimental quality. Kudos to KLpac resident director Tung Jit Yang for trying something so gritty, but this is to be expected after his play Riwayat, last year.
Like our lives, which can be chaotic despite all that planning, Losertown’s presentation made feeling like square pegs trying to fit round holes rather normal!
Of course, anyone who has had introspective periods in their lives – be it merely listening to S.Korea’s BigBang’s 2015 Loser song (obviously for those below 30 years old) – would be able to relate to the messages in Losertown.
Stand up and accept your imperfections. Stop whining, and so on. Always good to get such self-reaffirmation, set to good music.
While Losertown made for an engrossing time, the loneliness of urban living, as metaphored in the lighted cardboard cutouts of flats, could have been either explored, tightened or just left out. It was a downer in that otherwise frenetic explosion of Hannan’s off-centre exposition of music, comedy and theatre.
As for Frank Snatra’ exquisite rendition of My Way, as the penultimate end, it was the icing on the indulgent quality of the theatrical showing. But I put it down to the millennial mindset, for Losertown as a piece of theatre was totally imaginative fun.
The 10-day run was too short, for such entertainment!
** This review appeared in the New Straits Times, 2017.