Image courtesy of Liminal Edge.

mi·as·ma (noun) mīˈazmə,mē-/ : an influence or atmosphere that tends to deplete or corrupt.

This definition was the starting point for Miasma, a play presented by new theatre production company Liminal Edge. Miasma was comprised of four short plays, each with its own explosive storytelling and acting talent.

Directed by David Lim, the Artistic and Managing Director of Liminal Edge, the four plays are written by Shamaine Othman, Adiwijaya (also known as Iskandar Ismail), Na’a Murad and Maya Tan Abdullah. They feature the same revolving cast of Gregory Sze, Zukhairi Ahmad, Siti Farrah Abdullah, Amelia Chen, Iskandar Zulkarnain, Na’a Murad, and Helen Ann Peters.

Miasma kicked off with Shamaine Othman’s play, “Noah”. What started off as light-hearted banter and gentle chiding between two best friends with opposing lifestyles took a slightly chilling turn as they tussled over the name of Linda’s soon-to-be-born son. I found this particular piece easy to digest and enjoyable, with the humour undercut by a dangerous edge. It definitely brought chuckles from the audience.

“Bapak” by Adiwijaya, in contrast, took the mood back to a more serious note. In this family drama, secrets of sexual abuse from the past threaten to disrupt the fabric of the domestic unit. There was more gravity and more tension as we watched a brother confronting his father. It was left up to us to ponder how we might grapple with the uncomfortable truth, especially when it hits so close to home. Do we confront it or do we run?

Next came a lengthier piece written by Na’a Murad (who also acts as the father in “Bapak”) titled “The Hundred”. The play depicts the journey of a hundred ringgit note as it changes hands throughout the day, meeting a variety of characters from diverse backgrounds. I felt that this piece was an excellent way of portraying how nothing is as tangible as it initially seems.

The final piece of the four, by Maya Tun Abdullah, was broken into two parts. Titled “Dunia Lelaki”, the first part was about a young man, Nazim, going through the different possible reactions from his mother as he tries to tell her something. It was interesting to note the manner in which this part played out, reminiscent to improv game shows with a loud buzzing sound at short intervals.

In the second segment of “Dunia Lelaki”, Gadis talks about how a woman could manipulate and adapt herself in order to get ahead in a Man’s world. What is perceived to be real for one individual might just be a guise for another, a mask of sorts in order to achieve an eventual goal. I believe this is something that most people could identify with.

All in all, Miasma was a series of four very good shorts. Each challenged the audience with different themes ranging from hidden passion to jealousy, resentment, disillusionment and fear. I personally felt that Siti Farrah who played Linda in “Noah” and the sister in “Bapak” really stood out. She shone through in her strong portrayal of the characters, delivering her naturally and with utmost conviction.

The mission statement from Liminal Edge says that they aim “to stage theatrical productions that are intellectually stimulating, socially enlightening, and dramatically engaging.” For Miasma, I believe that they have successfully accomplished just that. I look forward to seeing what the team has to offer for the year ahead.