By N. A. WARDAH and SHAHIDAH HAMEED

If you were bored last Monday night and wished to watch a theatre, you might be one of the spectators who were cheering loudly at the witty pick-up lines, emotional mother-son scenes and gasp-causing fights at the staging of Bo-tak, which is this year’s mock trial, an event held annually in conjunction with the AIKOLFEST.

Directed by Amirul Alimin and Adilla Ismail, this year’s Mock Trial took place at the Main Auditorium on 6th November 2017. Many received the event well, and very much anticipated it. Bo-tak is an adaptation of the infamous case of serial armed robberies in Malaysia back in the 1960s. Inspired in art by the ‘360 Gang’ member, Botak Chin, the staging revolved around the main character who committed notorious robbery crimes back in his heyday.

Fancying ourselves the resident journalist, AIKOL Press of course had to send writers to see what exactly was so attractive about Bo-tak that some had actually despaired of ever getting tickets (they were sold out a week before the event took place!).

A week after, we tell you six reasons why Bo-tak deserve our praises.

  1. Bo-tak brought up the misunderstood issue in our society of the permissibility of a Muslim lawyer defending a criminal

We’re not the same. We’ll never be the same. People need doctors to cure their sickness, to reduce their pain, to get better. I save lives, but you…do lawyers really save lives?” Many hold the opinion that defending a criminal is a sin. A dangerous statement it is, but that is the perception when a Muslim lawyer who in the eyes of many should always be on the ‘right path’ defending the so-called wronged parties, is on the side of someone who to the layman’s eyes already appear like a criminal. However, not many understand that defending a criminal is not, per se, defending what they did. It is about helping them to justify why they did such an act. Who knows they are just being accused. Who knows they did not have the intention to commit the crime. Who knows they have reasons why they did what they did.

After all, a lawyer does not necessarily have to win every case. Instead, he has to be just at all times. As Najid, the Muslim lawyer in this play puts it, “Mak, my job is not to deny reality, or conceal the fact. Jadi peguam bela ni tak bermaksud yang Najid akan bela semua yang dia dah buat. Yang salah tetap salah. Law is about arguments. Najid akan mencari jalan penyelesaian yang terbaik untuk semua orang.”

  1. The pick-up lines were so witty that you cringe yet can’t stop smiling!

If you’re into lovey-dovey scenes, Bo-tak did not miss disappoint in its romantic element. The romance between the hero, Botak Chin and the heroin, Hua Mei were portrayed throughout the play. Accompanied by excellent musical scenes, we could plainly see the love between them. In the scene where Botak Chin says the ‘L’ word to Mei (yes, the other L-word!) That moment, the whole auditorium were driven up the wall. Craving for some, eh? There was also the funny yet sweet conversation between Najid’s parents in one long scene. It was comical and made us remember the love that our parents share back home.

  1. The cast members

It wasn’t only the main actors who were the highlight of the night – the ones filling the supporting roles helped liven the mood of the theatre considerably. From flirty Timah Tembun, amiable Melati, gregarious Kamala and loving Puan Aziah to the notorious gangsters and the big-voiced policemen – all were worth noting.

  1. A script that commands attention

In this year’s Mock Trial, a combination of Malay and English language used interchangeably with the balanced use of both languages was evident throughout the whole staging. Lines like “Kita bukan Tuhan mau hukum sapa-sapa dan Chin bukan malaikat yang tak pernah buat silap” and “Tak pernah ada jalan selamat. Yang ada hanya risiko. You choose the road that you think might save you, but there’s no guarantee that you are walking on the safest road, that it’s one that takes you in the right direction”, stood on their own merit.

  1. An unconventional ending

Just when you thought that the hero and heroine would end up together like the average tale, Botak Chin loses his beloved Hua Mei. Oops, #spoileralert.

  1. Behind the curtains

At the end of the day, a theatre is not just about what you can see. So many things go on behind the scenes before and after that make a staging what it is, and it was no different for Bo-tak.

As a cast member said, “It was certainly hard to balance both. I struggled with memorising scripts and catching deadlines for assignments”. Well, we guess your effort, alongside that of all the other committee and cast members, paid off real well!