Shear Madness Review

Shear Madness Review

When a show returns for its third instalment in a time span of just two years, and its audiences look forward to watching it twice or thrice, you know that it really does have a lot of elements working in its favour.

Gardner & Wife Theatre captures this with their third run of Paul Portner’s ‘Shear Madness’, a unique whodunit play that first reached local shores in June 2014. And no, we do not use the term ‘unique’ here lightly. After all, do you know of many plays that call for extensive participation by audience members?

The storyline of the play is simple enough: an internationally-renowned pianist is murdered rather brutally, shortly before her much-anticipated comeback tour. This event takes place in the pianist’s home, which is located right above the Shear Madness unisex hair salon. When authorities narrow down the suspects, it is revealed that the murderer is one of a few individuals that have been in the salon throughout the day. The questions are, who is it exactly, and why?

This is where audience members come in, by helping to figure out who the culprit is and solve the crime. If you have played ‘Cluedo’ before, you would probably be feeling a sense of déjà vu right about now.

What primarily makes this run of ‘Shear Madness’ such a joy to watch is the cast. From Marina Tan’s depiction of ‘The Beautician’ to Junji Delfino’s take on ‘The Socialite’, each actor charges his or her role with invigorating energy and personality, delivering performances that are dynamic from start to finish. This is especially apparent as a large part of ‘Shear Madness’ is improvised and depends greatly on the chemistry that members of the cast have in playing off each other.

More importantly, it makes each character horribly convincing, giving audiences a hard time in pinpointing who they think committed the murder.

The play has also been closely refurnished to suit local audiences. It is injected with humour that is bound to leave the average Malaysian in stitches, touching on certain controversial issues. The honest but vibrant set has also been designed to reflect a typical Malaysian salon; one that you could easily imagine visiting on a weekend for a quick trim and wash.

The best part? The murderer changes from one performance to the next. This means that the best way to enjoy this piece is to watch it yourself, before it ends its run on the 28th of June 2015 in PJ Live Arts’ cosy Cabaret space. Just make sure you’re above 14 years of age though!

Oh, believe us – we would love to tell you more. But we would most probably have to kill you after, and that would be sheer madness!


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