If the media were to be believed, Australians wrestle with the impact of a multicultural society regularly. The Instant Café Theatre Company’s production of Parah however highlights a racial struggle of another kind.
Set in Kuala Lumpur, Melur, Hafiz, Mahesh and Kahoe are high school students studying a set text in their literature class called Interlok. The diverse cultural backgrounds of each character is explored and challenged as they discover the contents of the book and ways in which their culture may be marginalised in a time where Malaysia is working towards unity.
The cast is spectacular in this production. They are as believable in their roles as they are diverse. Melur (Farah Rani), the female of the group is the pacifying idealist and her friendship with each of the boys is tested as their cultural differences are put under scrutiny.
The set is simple, yet functional. It is the characters that hold this story together. The structure of the text allows each character to showcase their culture through their interpretation of Interlok and provide a snapshot of Malaysian history.
It’s food for thought and a reminder in particular for Australian audiences that diversity is the fabric of our culture, but it takes strength and an open-mind to engender unity.