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The Kanjoos (The Miser)

May 13, 2012
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Event: “The Kanjoos (The Miser)” by HuM Theatre
Venue: DBS Arts Centre
Run: 10th – 13th, 17th – 19th May 2012

Generous Laughs

HuM Theatre returns once again with a local adaptation of Moliere’s French farce “The Miser”, in the form of their very own “The Kanjoos”.

“Kanjoos” comes from the lead character’s name Kanjooswamy (played by Subin Subaiah), a local businessman in the toilet fittings business who happens to be the biggest scrooge you’d find anywhere.

A character such as a miser naturally opens up a plethora of comedic possibilities, and Subin (who also had a big hand in writing a lot of parts into the adaptation) gamely milks it for all it is worth, from charging all guests 50 cents to use their living room jukebox, to peering into his neighbour’s home to freeload off his wi-fi, to getting all-round handyman Gerald Chew to ride an exercise bike to serve as a generator to power his house lights.

The reusing of teabags – all hung neatly on the garden clotheslines – for afternoon tea was a hilarious if not elaborate touch.

HuM Theatre delivers on what they do best, and that is providing generous doses of laughs through comedy.

I thought the audience response on Friday night was fantastic, but according to the cast and director, it was even better on opening night, so I think the show doesn’t have too much to worry about in this respect.

As with all their other shows, it is husband-and-wife team Subin Subaiah and Daisy Irani who undeniably hold it all together with their superior comedic acting and unmistakble chemistry.

But their biggest strength might also be their weakness, because as with their other shows, Subin and Daisy’s performances tend to easily outshine the rest of the cast, and in the case of “The Kanjoos”, I found the acting to be rather uneven, even though newcomer Clarice Jena Luo did remarkably well with her faux Chinese-national-accented English.

Credit must also be given to Subin for writing in so many current references – both local and international – into the play, such as the obligatory PAP references, ERP gantries, the Euro debt crisis, Goldman Sachs “muppets” and so on, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

The play was typical farce, with the action happening fast and furious.

Things got a bit laborious midway through the second act though, and there came a point where the chuckles started to get a bit forced and you started to wonder where all this was headed to.

It has to be said that there is a fine line between farce and cheap slapstick, and at times “The Kanjoos” found itself bordering dangerously close to cheap slapstick territory.

But whatever it is, one cannot deny the fact that HuM Theatre knows how to put a smile on your face, and in this particular adaptation of Moliere, Subin and Daisy pull out all the stops to make sure that even the worst of penny pinchers have nothing to complain about.

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