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Production

The Male Instinct

Company

Moonshadow Stories

Reviewer

Nadia Bte Ibrahim

Date

09/07/2005

Time

8.00pm

Place

The Blue Room, The Substation

Rating

***1/2

Once Upon a Time...

Everyone enjoys a good story. Though stories are usually told to children, most adults appreciate a good story too. Recognising this, the storytellers of Moonshadow Stories decided to present a storytelling session especially for adults. Titled The Male Instinct, it promised stories that would reveal the male perspective on life.

The Male Instinct was performed in the Blue Room at the Substation. The room was lovely and comfortable, with candles providing a touch of warmth and softness. The atmosphere created not only made everyone feel at ease, but also made the evening's tales all the more pleasant to listen to. The stories that were told originated from places like India and the Americas.

Verena Tay started the evening off with a story about The Little-Man-With-Hair- All-Over. Describing the exciting adventures of this little man (he fought ugly monsters, rescued four damsels in distress and married them), this story proved that size and appearance are not as significant as true courage and determination, which always triumph in the end. Tay was an amusing storyteller, aware of some men's preoccupation with "size" and making use of this to tickle the audience by adjusting her pants to give an impression of a "big" man. The ease with which she changed her voice, deepening it or making it high-pitched to suit the character she was playing was commendable and one could imagine each character's appearance and mannerisms just from her descriptions. Tay fumbled her lines a couple of times but admittedly, relating a solo story in front of an audience can be rather nerve-wracking, unlike a play where fellow cast members are able to lend support. Besides the story about The Little-Man-With-Hair-All-Over, Tay also entertained the audience with coyote stories, reflecting masculine lust for pleasures of the flesh.

The other talented storyteller was Kamini Ramichandran, whose calm nature and soothing voice made listening to her tales a real pleasure. She told stories of a tiger and its adopted human son, as well as three Eskimo stories. One of these Eskimo stories was about a jealous and possessive husband who always suspected his wife of being intimate with another Eskimo. He would beat her mercilessly and when his wife could not tolerate the abuse any longer, she went up to the mountains to seek the help of a magical entity. In the end, her husband was killed and she returned to a life of peace and comfort. Though the story's plot was simple and the solution to its central problem could never be applied in today's world, the story spoke of spousal abuse, which is not uncommon in today's society. It depicted some men's need for control over their wives and how this need sometimes translates into abuse, both physical and verbal. Ramichandran paced her story well and her use of pauses succeeded in making the audience hang on to her every word. Her success in engaging the audience was probably due to the fact that she loves storytelling to children and has been doing it at pre-schools and private parties.

Cyril Wong was the guest storyteller for the evening. Relating a story of which I'm sure most of us have heard at least one variation, he provided a delightful gay twist. His story was about a gay couple - a fisherman, his lover, Kevin, and a magical fish that grants wishes. The sweet and touching moral of the story was simply that the material aspects of life could never compensate for the love and companionship that two people share. Wong's facial expressions and naughty references to the fisherman and Kevin's relationship amused the audience to no end. His open nature was also appealing and this made his story both comical and touching.

Though The Male Instinct was only for adults, the stories that were told had a few childlike qualities - for example, the story of the tiger and its adopted son is one that could just as easily be seen in a children's book, and this was also the case with the mischievous coyote and its adventures. Perhaps the presence of animals in the stories was to show that humans are not much different from their untamed friends - to show how we humans have retained animalistic desires. However, it would have been more of a treat if Moonshadow Stories had provided a wider selection of tales incorporating slightly more realistic settings. Nevertheless, The Male Instinct was perfect for those who enjoy childlike stories with adult themes and naughty twists to them.

I've never attended a storytelling session for adults before and this one proved to be a pleasant way to spend an evening with a friend, listening to the beauty of the spoken word. Some might argue that storytelling is not as challenging as traditional plays. However, with few or no props, there is a great challenge in capturing and sustaining the audience's attention. The storyteller's facial expressions, tone of voice, pacing, use of gesture and attention to details all come into play. And through these skills, Moonshadow Stories pleased its audience with its simplicity and its desire to tell good stories.


"The Male Instinct was perfect for those who enjoy childlike stories with adult themes and naughty twists to them"

More Reviews by Nadia Bte Ibrahim

Ratings out of 5, based on Practitioner's Vision / Reviewer's Response: ***** = Transcendent / Rapturous;
**** = Crystal / Appreciative; *** = Transmitted / Thoughtful; ** = Vague / Unsatisfied; * = Uncommunicated / Mystified.