Thursday September 20, 2012
Moving interpretations in Cinta Julia
By AMINUDDIN MOHSIN
Veteran actress Fauziah Nawi gave a sterling performance in Cinta Julia.
Stupid. Ignoble. Despicable. The first few heartfelt words in the very first line of Fauziah Nawi’s powerful, emotionally-driven monodrama Cinta Julia are enough to tell you what kind of a ride you are in for; heart-wrenching, passionate, honest.
The monodrama, first staged in 2008, was so well received by critics and audiences alike that it landed Fauziah a chance to perform Cinta Julia at Singapore’s Esplanade in October 2010.
The production was back by popular demand at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur for only three nights last week, Fauziah didn’t let her fans down and put on a show that revealed just how versatile a performer she is. It proves that seasoned actors only get better with age.
The hour-long one-woman show tells the story of Julia, the only child to a cultured man who works in a brewery, and his illiterate housewife.
The plot revolves around Julia’s coming of age in a Malay community during the 1950s and 1960s where joget culture was alive and most homes still had gramophones.
Julia goes through emotional upheavals as she witnesses her father’s tragic death and sees her mother forced to remarry a man she eventually drives away after he tries to molest Julia.
“Pergi! Pergi dari sini! Jangan kau dekati dia! Kalau kau datang balik, aku akan cincang kau! (Go away! Get out of here! Don’t you come near her! If you ever come back, I’ll cut you into pieces),” screamed Fauziah in an intense scene that put the audience on edge.
With the consummate skill of a veteran artist, Fauziah effortlessly portrays the naked human emotions Julia experiences with surreal clarity.
One minute she displays Julia’s full fury and scorn towards society and its shallow perceptions of her family, and the next she breaks down into sobs as she mourns the death of her father and her mother’s circumstances of being forced to work as a joget girl to provide for the family.
The rollercoaster ride of emotions wasn’t limited to the extremes of anger and sorrow – it also included light-hearted moments between Julia and her mother, where the latter describes how dearly she loves Julia’s father and how Julia is a symbol of that love.
The lessons contained in the monodrama are numerous, most noticeably it discredits superficiality and speaks of acceptance and coming to terms with who you are and the circumstances and people that surround you.
The monodrama ends strongly with Julia returning to the quintessential love of God and setting out to embark on a pilgrimage to Mecca after her mother’s death and finding out her husband is gay.
Fauziah’s moving performance struck at the chords of the audience’s heartstrings and elicited sighs, quiet sobs and giggles for every emotion she exhibited.
The cleverly produced, down-to-earth period drama was written and directed by Iryanda Mulia Irwadi, who also composed the monodrama’s music and the lyrics to its songs. He didn’t stop there; he personally strummed the guitar that provided the show’s ambience.
In the short space of an hour, Fauziah sang, danced, screamed, laughed, cried and even collapsed for the audience and despite the draining routine, even on the last night of the show, she still had the strength to address her audience, albeit with a little emotion left over from the performance.
“I’m crying and this is embarassing. Sometimes when I take on a role, I’m reminded of real life experiences and emotions, and I can’t help but form a close bond with the character.
“I’d like to thank everyone who made it here tonight, to celebrate this small and insignificant performer, I really appreciate the love and support,” she said at the end of her show.
Her teary and modest speech might well have been the highlight of the night. Not many actors could have pulled off a Cinta Julia, perhaps only with the wisdom and humility of age can such emotional depth be found.