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Past Shows (2000-now)
New Straits Times
By Marc Lourdes

WHEN an unfunny friend had me rolling on the floor laughing at her description of Gamarjobat's last two shows in Malaysia, I knew I had to catch the duo's performance called Western at Actors Studio Bangsar.

Scene from Gamarjobat: Western

All it took was 30 seconds for me to realise why she was so enamoured with this Japanese pair. Manic, irreverent, bawdy and brilliant, Ketch! and Hiro-pon's brand of silent entertainment is a brilliant fusion of slapstick, pantomime, drama and sitcom. Though the roughly 80-minute play is titled Western, it is actually a performance of two distinct halves.

The first is an insane, unstructured session where the two, aided with some very eccentric props like a stuffed penguin, artificial limbs, scuba fins, miniature electric guitars and a huge steel suitcase, proceed to go berserk on stage. The duo held a concert, mucked around with little stuffed balls and, from time to time, took the piss out of the audience.

The second half is where the Western comes in. The story, in a nutshell, is of two rival gunslingers who are vying for the attention of one woman. Of course, the parody is one which is chock-full of gags poking fun at the various stereotypes that have embedded itself into the public's collective consciousness. One of my favourite jokes (spoiler alert!) was the scene of the one-upmanship gunfight. The baddie shoots a bird, causing it to fall down dead. Not wanting to be beaten, the good guy fires six shots into the air, to get a barrel of Kentucky Fried Chicken falling at his feet!

There are many things brilliant about Ketch! and Hiro-pon's act, including their acting versatility (they play female and midget characters), their superb choice of music and special effects sounds. This includes a music box version of Hey Jude and a mean guitar riff every time the baddie walks onstage, among others. But what I loved the most was their ability to engage the audience and make them part of the show, instead of merely spectators.

To me, it made the show so much more than just a show. It made it an experience.