LADS Autumn play brought to you by UNM’s very own students!
Upon receiving the ticket to KL-KO, you would already have certain expectations on the production. The details of the tickets and posters gave a positive perception towards the play. Even before the play, the team has already impressed, and it didn’t stop there. The moment you step into the drama studio, colourful spotlights, amazing 80s music and few settings of different scenes welcomes you. The credits go to the design, props and tech team for setting the ambience of the 80s which is similar to the KL-KO’s storyline.
KL-KO kicks off with Encik Mahadzir who is a local renowned talent agent and his American counterpart, Frank looking for a Malaysian boxer to get in the ring with the world heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson for an exhibition match before the main event. While the two were scouting for the right men, the last thing they expected to see was a young female trying out for the position. They were amused by the young girl’s enthusiasm and determination, but it was out of their mind that a girl would go against Mike Tyson. Although the young girl was rejected without even given a chance, she told Encik Mahadzir and Frank before leaving to not forget a name, “Tan Ai Leng”.
The play continues by exposing the audience to Ai Leng’s personal life and the people around her in depth. Ai Leng and her best friend, Mazuri works in a manufacturing company. She was so close to Mazuri that she was considered as a family to Mazuri’s grandparents. Ai Leng went to meet with Mazuri’s grandfather “Pakcik” and ask him to train her to be a better boxer, as she is serious about boxing Mike Tyson in Kuala Lumpur. At that very instant, Pakcik rejected her request and called her crazy because no Malaysian female ever stepped into a boxing ring and fight, more over to fight a heavyweight champion.
Although Ai Leng was disheartened, she looked up to Muhammad Ali as her inspiration to never give up. She continued training on her own and gain more knowledge on boxing by reading. At the same time, she keeps sending letters to Encik Mahadzir and plead him to give her the chance to box Mike Tyson even for a 3-minutes round.
Not long after that the manufacturing company top gun, Mr. Wu announced they would start to impose a night shift policy on the women workers although the company’s management, Mr. Fung and Encik Fuad tried to find deter the decision. Ai Leng’s mother “Ma” and Mazuri’s grandmother “Nenek” was strongly against it.
However, Mr. Fung as well as Ai Leng’s father “Pa” argued that it is a good job and they shouldn’t let it go just because of the night shift policy. One night, Mazuri came back crying and breaking down. When prompted by Pakcik and Nenek, she told them that she was harassed by someone in the factory. Pakcik decided to report the matter to the police but insisted that Nenek stayed back at home.
At the police station, Mazuri was hesitant to explain the details to the police officer and wanted to speak to a female police officer instead. However due to circumstances, she had to cooperate with the policemen to assist him in the investigation. She then explained that one of the engineers in the factory groped her breast after she exited the toilet at 3.30 a.m. in the factory. Meanwhile, Ai Leng went to Mazuri only to find Nenek sitting alone and worried. Nenek then shared the news of the incident with Ai Leng.
After that incident, Pakcik finally decided to train Ai Leng and prepare her for the boxing match. As days of her training goes by, she received a letter by Encik Mahadzir offering her the opportunity to box Mike Tyson for one round. She just needs to get her parents’ consent and signature. When Pa found out, he had doubts but nevertheless supported Ai Leng.
However, when Ma discovered about the news she was at the opposite edge and couldn’t even accept the fact that Pa supported the idea of their daughter getting bruises and bleeding nose in front of a large crowd. Ma finally shifted her stance and allowed Ai Leng to pursue her dreams when she visited the factory during the investigation of Mazuri’s case and appreciated Ai Leng’s contribution towards the family.
As time pass, the lawyer to Mazuri tried to convict the offender in the court. However due to lack of evidence, the offender was failed to be brought to trial. Mazuri tried to look on the bright side and move on. The story continues with Ai Leng doing her finally preparation for the match and was visited by Mazuri who later then broke the news to Ai Leng. They both lifted each other’s spirit and went for karaoke before the big day comes.
On the event day, Encik Mahadzir took the centre of the ring. When Ai Leng was called into the ring, the whole Malaysian crowd cheer for her throughout the whole stadium. Though she was nervous, she kept calm and focus on the match. As Encik Mahadzir called out Mike Tyson, an intimidating kind of cheer erupted, and Mike walked out with a frightening vibe.
Soon after that, the bell rang, they touched gloves, and the round began. The first half of the match was dominated by Mike as he was intimidating Ai Leng and managed to knock her off to the ground. By the support of her family members and friends, Ai Leng got back on her feet to continue the round. Unexpectedly, she landed a major blow on Mike and knocked him out. With that, automatically she won the round and made history.
After the play.
The whole play was moving as it explores various values and themes, such as determination, friendship, love and equality. It was highlighted heavily on each different character’s story. It is a well written play as it touches taboo topics such as harassment, stigma on women, young Malaysian athletes, and flaws in the law system. Overall, each character was given their own spotlight to shine and each of the cast performed their character incredibly well.
The emotions portrayed, the chemistry between casts and the storyline was perfectly synchronised which makes the audience fully immersed into the scenes. It was a good juggle of emotions between sadness, intense and as well as humour. The blend of different characters was harmonious, from the serious typical Malaysian parents to the young aspiring girl to the comedic gang of 3 old people. It gave a balance of mood throughout the play.
Not to forget, although the props and stage settings was quite simple, the props team and stage managers did well in maximising the limited space and assist the cast to fuel the imagination of the audience. Adding to the equation was the make-up team’s effort as their skills were at it’s best making each character portrayed accurately.
The costume department did a great job too, because the costumes were era and scene accurate. A play wouldn’t be possible without the tech team too, and they deserve all the credit for the on-point lighting and music. The notable thing about KL-KO is that beside the casts’ talented performance, the team’s effort was amazing in making the play as accurate as possible to the setting of the storyline.
I must give credits to the directors for doing such a fantastic job to pull of the remarkable play, each second was worth the time and the audience just couldn’t get enough of it. After 2 hours of KL-KO, hands down. It knocked me out.
Ahmad Danial A. Ghafar
Ai Leng – Carmen Hew
Ma – Yu Huan
Pa – Brandon Jack Loh
Mazuri – Izzah Affandy
Nenek – Anis Chulan
Pakcik – Ajeetpal Singh
Mr. Fung – Kaiven Ng
Mr. Wu – Muhammad Aqil
Encik Fuad – Amanda Angela Danker
Frank – Aishwarya Adaikalaraj
Encik Mahadzir – Muhammad Amry
Sin – Calvin Wong Kai Wern
Velu – Aisyah Batrisyia Azhar
Lawyer – Alai Syafina
Policemen – Andreay Hyllde
Written by Ismail Merican