Yesterday it rained salt by Bhumi Collective is a bilingual play (Malay and English) written by playwright Nabilah Said. It tells the story of Azman (Soultari Amin Farid) returning to his island home and reconnecting with father (Kaykay Nizam). The journey is an emotional one, with bamboo sticks the two actors create several shapes: a boat at sea travelling in turbulent waters whilst Amin get’s emotional with the newly developed/destroyed landscape of the archipelago and sea. The bamboo is a crucial element to this play, as it morphs constantly, into a fire, a shelter, a place for emotionally packed conversations. Choreographer Norhaizad Adam creates beautiful but simple images with the actor’s body. It’s all gestural and accessible, at times perhaps too simple signposting an idea that is already revealed through text and emotions. So we get different entry points to the same idea.
Yesterday it rained salt is doubled in English and Malay, and perhaps because I don’t speak or understand the latter I find the story hard to follow. Subtitles accompanied the performance above the actors, but every time my eyes move up to check what they are saying I feel like I miss something on stage.
At the post-show talk, I learned that yesterday it rained salt is a democratic and collective effort of the group. As a result, it lacks a strong sense of direction, it is still unclear to me what the performers are trying to say on stage. Democracy seems to be failing – looking to both sides of the Atlantic we can very clearly see that many voices working democratically are producing a state of impasse (USA), of stagnation and underdevelopment (U.K.) Theatre that lacks clear leadership, can sometimes take the shape and flavor of a broth cooked by too many cooks. It’s rather bland.