I had a fun time catching “Shear Madness” Malaysia at the Penang Performing Arts Centre last night.

“Shear Madness” is the crowd-interactive, smash comedy-whodunit which has been performed in many countries around the world. Producers Gardner and Wife brought the piece to Malaysia, and they had two runs in KL before bringing it to Penang for a very limited 3 show run.

The cast was fabulous, fun, funny, and gifted. The problem with the show here in Penang had little to do with the production which was top-notch. It had to do with a familiar Penang issue – the lack of people in the audience.

On their opening night in Penang, there were probably 80 people in the audience, which is a shame. “Shear Madness” is definitely the kind of script which would benefit greatly from a large, rowdy audience. The actors who are to interact with the audience in helping them solve the murder were sometimes pulling teeth to get audience participation. They played their roles well and rolled with the punches no matter what an audience member said or didn’t say. But this show needs the synergy between the performers and the paying customers to take it to the next level. Unfortunately, in notoriously tight-waded Penang, it didn’t happen. Tickets were 60 RM each, which feels like a lot for Penang. For a high quality production like this, it’s the equivalent of $18 USD – a pittance.

This performance was uniquely adapted to the Malaysian crowd, with local language thrown in, unique Malay-Chinese-English accents, and lots and lots of jokes about Malaysian politics and government. It also has a twist ending which I can’t tell you about, but it was unexpected, even making me want to go see it again.

So Penangites, get used to spending some money to enjoy top quality theatre! If we don’t, it won’t come back.

And if you get a chance to see Shear Madness (only 1  day left in Penang) somewhere in the world, please check it out. You’ll definitely have a good time.

2014-12-12 22.15.16

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