Several years ago, composer and writer Nick Choo had one of his friends confide something highly personal to him: he was thinking of committing suicide.

“I remember the questions that went through my mind: How should I react? What of his closer friends, his family – did they not care, did they blame themselves? How did he end up in this predicament in the first place? And, most importantly, how could I help him?” Choo recalled.

Mercifully, his friend – who was struggling with substance abuse – ended up pulling through. The experience, however, inspired Choo to start writing The Edge, a musical about a young man who commits suicide and how it affects those around him. The musical’s story touches on issues such as depression, sexuality, affairs of the heart, faithfulness and betrayal.

Why write the show as a musical instead of say, a drama?

“I want to use the musical as a medium to explore pertinent issues,” Choo said. “It’s not about being different for the sake of being different. It’s about moving away from the traditional expectations of a musical: the lights, and costumes, dancing, and so forth, and using the musical as a vehicle for exploring more real, relatable topics.”

Originally workshopped in 2008, Choo’s script went through a couple of rewrites, before finally being picked up by local theatre company Monday Show Entertainment this year as their inaugural production. The musical, which is almost entirely sung-through, features 25 original songs performed by cast members Peter Ong, Joshua Gui, Sean Chong, Safia Hanifah, Tria Aziz, and Nadia Aqilah.

A particularly unusual feature of the show is that its protagonist, Josh, is unseen throughout, with the characters in the show – his mother, brother, girlfriend and three close friends – forced to re-examine their individual histories with him.

Part of the proceeds from sales of RM100 tickets on the musical’s opening night (2 November) and Gala Night (5 November) will be donated to non-profit organization The Befrienders, whose mission is to alleviate distress and help reduce the risk of suicide through emotional support and public education. The Befrienders are the show’s official beneficiary.


According to the National Suicide Registry, in 2011 an average of two people committed suicide every day in the country.


It is timely for The Edge to be staged now, in an era where mental issues are increasingly at the forefront of society. The New Straits Times reported earlier this month that 10 percent of Malaysians were projected to experience mental illness by 2020, as well there being a noticeable increase in the number of patients seeking treatment.

According to the National Suicide Registry, in 2011 an average of two people committed suicide every day in the country.

The Health Ministry states there are currently there are four mental institutions and 48 government hospitals that provide psychiatric and mental health services in the country, as well as 252 psychiatrists, 80 clinical psychologists, and 228 family medical specialists at the health clinics to detect and treat patients with mental illness.

There are also a number of local suicide hotlines and help centres which provide mental health services. Public perception, however, remains a large obstacle in people seeking help.

“Unfortunately, there still seems to be a stigma regarding mental health,” says actress Safia Hanifah, who plays Deanna, Josh’s girlfriend.

“People make jokes about it, or dumb it down. The whole ‘going to therapy’ culture is not a big thing here. When you do go, people ask: ‘are you crazy?’ and stuff like that. They make light of the whole thing.”

“I think we all know that often, things may not be as they seem. People may seem fine on the outside, but may be hurting on the inside,” says Joshua Gui, who plays Ryan, Josh’s high school and university classmate.

“This musical is a reminder to us that we have to be careful in what we say. We have to be more careful, more empathetic. It reminds us that we have to understand the human condition, as suicide is a very serious matter. Nowadays, it’s even common for people to commit suicide over bad results. It’s important for us to know how to take action, to know what to do to remedy this problem.”


“At the heart of The Edge is an attempt at exploring human relationships – how what we do can affect other people.”


Tria Aziz, who plays Josh’s mother Lily, said being in the show was a particularly harrowing experience for her. “When I was young, I was taught it was against my religion to even consider suicide. It was a scary thought. But the thing is, people do it, regardless of their background. You never know who would be so depressed to consider it. So if I see someone in need of attention, or help, I’m always careful to see if that person needs assistance. A simple act of kindness can change their whole point of view.”

“But in this show, I had to be heartless,” Tria adds. “In playing Lily, my character had to be oblivious to the signs her son was showing. She could not see them. Every time my character did something that hurt her son, I had to find my reasons. Lily doesn’t mean to hurt her son, but somehow she does it unintentionally, and it drives him to this. It was very difficult.”

Director Sabrina Hassan said she and her cast had been working very hard to ensure that everything was ‘honest’.

The Edge is a musical which addresses the themes of suicide; love; friendship; the relationship between mother and son; and the relationship between brothers. In this deceptively simple play it was especially important to make the characters relatable and to engage the audience throughout the duration of the play,” Sabrina said.

She added she hoped the musical would also serve to remind Malaysians of the quality of local talent.

“I hope the audience will recognise the immense pool of talent we have in Malaysia and will help support it. The theatre not only entertains but also provides a platform to share ideas. It is part of our culture and heritage no matter the language,” Sabrina said.

Choo said he hoped the musical could encourage those suffering from mental or emotional distress to reach out to others. He also hoped people would be able to see some reflection of themselves in the show’s flawed characters and be able to relate on some level.

“At the heart of The Edge is an attempt at exploring human relationships – how what we do can affect other people, how the decisions we make in life can have an impact on those who are close, and not so close to us, without us necessarily realising it all,” he said.

“And ultimately, The Edge tries to ask: if we do manage to hurt someone, how readily or easily should we accept – and grant – forgiveness?”

The Edge will be performed at Pentas 2, KLPAC, from 2 – 10 November; 2 November and 6-9 November at 8.30pm; 2-3 November and 9-10 November at 3pm. Tickets are priced at RM65, with a 15% discount for students of The Monday Show. Tickets are available here.