Wan Smolbag Theatre’s new play “Kakae Rat” pushes boundaries which writer Jo Dorras has never delved into as she has been penning scenes of drama in WSB’s past plays. While there have been community plays which required unconventional characters – like the one play about the environment which involved robots – there has never been a major production that drives our imaginations into multiple dimensions as Kakae Rat has, with its seemingly unconventional characters – the rats!
After watching the play from beginning to end, the director, Peter Walker, asked me what I though about it. All I could say was, “Oh, it was nice!” That might not have been what the director wanted to hear, but I was too preoccupied to give him anything else.
What was I preoccupied with?
Played out to a backdrop of a rubbish dump and a family’s home in the slums, the plot follows the live of the king of rats who has fallen truly, madly, deeply in love with Veronique – a Cinderella type human character who is unloved by her family. As the story unfolds, we come to see why she is living with this particular family.
However, the complication comes with the rats! Artistic in their make-up and almost cartoonist in their presentations, the two actors become two rats who want to enter the world of humans. On the one hand is the king of rats who will stop at nothing to get Veronique while on the other hand there is the “olfala” rat who is ever hungry and keeps cautioning the king of rats about his unconventional endeavor.
Being the loyal servant that he is, he goes along with the kings’ plans – fixing the kings plans and running errands like a faithful servant would. It all seems natural to see how the rats interact with each other and how the humans interact with each other. But when the two worlds meet – there are screams, surprises and schemes that compel you to reach out in utter dismay and protest!
Why does the rat want to marry a human girl? Aren’t there any female rats around? Why did the rats run their money laundering scheme? Why did the community not see that the scheme was a fraudulent attempt to steal money from them? If the humans were more diligent, they would have figured out that they were being played by rats, right?
Then the bomber: Who do the rats represent?
I have been asked that same question by many a viewer of Kakae Rat! Who are the rats supposed to represent? Most times I tell the people who ask to figure out who they represent. Some have come back to me saying that they represent foreign investors, while others say that they represent the rich exploiting the poor. Some have contemplated that it’s about the poorest exploiting those less poor than them. Still others have talked about money laundering as well as forced marriages!
That a pair of rodents should be giving everyone so much to talk about is testament to Jo Dorras’ and Peter Walker’s imaginative storytelling – pushing limits to get people talking. And as fate would have it, in a move to get out of her current misery, Veronique agrees to marry the king of rats as the play ends on a contemplative note!
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