FROM TABLE MOUNTAIN TO TELUK INTAN
nytheatre.com review by Andrea Somberg
For the sake of brevity, most people refer to this festival as “FringeNYC”,
or, merely “The Fringe.” But in case we forget the “international” part
of “The New York International Fringe Festival” Shahimah Idris’s From
Table Mountain to Teluk Intan is here to remind us. From South
Africa to Australia and on to Malaysia, this play shows that, with a
little faith and perseverance, the alienation caused by both apartheid
and physical disability can be overcome.
August 15, 2002
This is the story of Alia, a woman growing up in South Africa. She leaves apartheid behind when she moves to Melbourne and meets Yosef, a Malaysian artist. When Yosef wants to move back to Malaysia, Alia reluctantly follows. In the wrong place at the wrong time, she’s stabbed and becomes paralyzed from the waist down. Stuck in a wheel chair, she almost succumbs to despair, but her faith and perseverance carry her through.
Don’t be vexed with me because I’ve given the plot away. The program comes equipped with a full synopsis, and in fact I suggest you read it. This play is a one-woman act performed by the talented Jo Kukathas. She does all of the characters, and it’s a joy and a wonder to watch her transform. In spite of her best efforts, though, at times it’s a bit difficult to keep everything and everyone straight. At such moments, it’s nice to have a firm grasp of the plot.
As the performance takes us on its international journey, it covers not only a vast range of physical territory, but a lot of emotional territory as well. There are some powerful scenes in Table Mountain, encompassing the sad, the funny, and the inspirational. Thanks to Sue Ingleton’s direction and set design, the play accomplishes all of this beautifully with the bare minimum of cast and props, relying on a white sheet, a folding chair, a wheelchair, and crutches.
This performance has much to say about important issues, and, if it’s a bit confusing at times, puzzling out the characters and the turn of events is well worth the effort. So go see some of the international side of “The New York International Fringe Festival,” and reserve your ticket for this intriguing play.