Choreographer, Norhaizad Adam negotiates coffee culture; the tasty, the ugly and the horrendous take over of corporations on the reach and delicious coffee bean. The atmosphere in the Theatre is revealing, and we feel exposed as we walk into what looks like the grinding basement of a coffee shop. The smell is awakening, and we can see the coffee beans lined up on the floor. The audience seats on wooden pallets converted into chairs that are too high for everyone, we can’t actually touch the floor, and I suspect this uncomfortable seating is integral to this disturbing piece of coffee-making-child-labour-hipster-drinking-coffee-culture.
Five performers pick coffee beans from the ground with the same precision and attention of someone plucking fleas of a cat. But the floor is stained, and something already happened in this basement. This process is monotonous and at times tedious. The performers are wrapped in vivid-red aprons making their job incredibly difficult, and after a long while, they shed the clothes to reveal an efficient manager (Hasyimah Harith), keen to get the job done, bossing around three waiters, (Galih Mahara, Kow Xiao Jun and Emmanuelle Martin.)
NGOPI suddenly shifts gear, to a violent place where the ensemble slaps themselves fifty-two times each in five different languages creating a mesmerising gangbang of languages and cultures.
Norhaizad’s choreography embeds repetition in most ensemble moments, with each solo repeating four times, throughout this ninety-minute piece. It feels long at times because each replication brings the same information in a different body and not a renewed idea. I wonder why this enquiry in replicating dance material four times regularly?
NGOPI finishes with a bittersweet taste. A critic on coffee culture, child exploitation and abusive working hours for the economically dispossessed. Syafiq Halid shares the duties of djing through the performance, occasionally wandering around the stage and finishing with a laborious and thought-through coffee making process. I think this is an analogy to the gig sharing economy most millennials live, but the smell of fresh coffee is out, and the waiters violently ask us to leave the premises. Business finally closes for the day, and I head home wondering if I feel guilty about ordering my regular kopi o kosong peng (black iced coffee no sugar).