Thursday, December 10, 2009


Last two nights (Wed 9th Dec 09), I went to watch the theatre ‘Natrah’ in Istana Budaya, KL. Since my mum’s a fan of theatre, and I was somehow introduced to it since small, I fell in love with it too. Sadly, theatre is always very costly so, we will only go and watch if there is a concession price, like this one.

For anyone who didn’t know, Natrah is a girl born to a Dutch family. Her father, Adrianus Petrus Hertough was a sergeant serving his country and was staying in Indonesia. Her mother, Adelaine Hertough befriends a Malay lady, Che Aminah. During Japanese occupation, Sergeant Hertough was captured and Adelaine was in a hard situation, forcing her to give away her daughter, Maria Huberdina Hertough to Che Aminah. 4 yrs after that, Che Aminah then brought Maria back to Kemaman, Terengganu and raise her up as a Muslim girl, named Natrah. 8 years later when Malaya is still under British colonisation (in 1949), Natrah was seen by Mr Locke, an English officer in Malaya. Mr Locke knows that there is a Dutch couple trying to find their long lost daughter.

Mr Locke tricked Che Aminah to go to Singapore so that Natrah can be taken away by her parents. Being in Terengganu, Che Aminah was more protected. When they reached Singapore, a summon was issued and Natrah was taken away, being put in Girls Homecraft Centre, York Hill, Singapore; a Christian charity house. The case then went public because it was like a fight between two religions; the Hertoughs wanting Maria back and educating her as a Catholic while Che Aminah wanting Natrah, the girl she raised and to continue educating her as a Muslim.

Some reading materials for those who want to know more abt Natrah (i cant possibly be writing her life story here, there's already a book on that) =)
1. Kosmo! Dis 9, 2009
2. Wikipedia (Malay version)
3. Wikipedia (English)
4. Utusan Malaysia 30/11/09
5. Utusan Malaysia (4/12/09

The climax of this conflict was when the English court in Malaya declared Natrah as a non-muslim and her marriage to a Muslim man; Mansor Adabi was declared null. That leads to 'Natrah riot' in Singapore killing 18 ppl and injuring at least 170 other. Natrah was sent back to Holland and raised as a Catholic. Natrah died this year, at the age of 72.

Maya Karin acted as Natrah, Remy Ishak as Mansor Adabi, Umie Aida as Che Aminah and Samantha Schubert as Adelaine. At first I wasnt sure if Remy Ishak is Adam in Nur Kasih but when he appeared on stage, I was very happy. Hahaha... It's not Remy Ishak that I like, it's Adam in Nur Kasih that I like. Ok, let's stop talking abt Nur Kasih, better get going with Natrah. Oh ya, there was a part when Remy Ishak was supposed to do a monologue, but he suddenly became quiet, for abt a minute. I think he forgot the script. Poor him....

For me, the script wasnt strong enough, there are arguable flaws and inconsistencies. But I love Natrah's dialogue. For me, Che Aminah's reasons to take Natrah back from the charity home wasn't logic. She said she's worried with Natrah's Islamic routine; whether she prays, whether she fasts etc etc. But for me, a mother whose daughter (eventhough an adopted one) is being kept in a place she's not allowed to visit her in, will be more concerned of the daughter's well being; whether she eats, whether she's treated nicely or whether she's crying etc etc than her prayers (uh, why do i sound weird saying this?). Plus, Natrah was only 13 at that time. In reality, I'm pretty sure that Che Aminah was also concerned of Natrah's well being apart from her prayers but the theatre did not raise that point at all. It was made as if Natrah's prayers were the only thing Che Aminah cared abt. Which was of course, not good enough.

Natrah married Mansor Adabi (Adam, yeay!) after the court decided to release Natrah from the charity home as the summon was retracted (ok, i dont really know what term i shd use here, 'cancelled' perhaps?). Logically, when Natrah is married to a local, her parents and the court could not and should not separate her from her husband and take her away. Natrah is of marrying age at that time, according to Islamic law. But according to civil law, she was still an underage thus her marriage was nullified! How dare the colonists nullify a marriage done under an Islamic law! How dare the colonists challenge the Islamic law, disrespecting it, announcing Natrah as a non-muslim, separate her from her husband and send her back to Holland. This was a case showing clearly how the colonists think the locals were stupid and weak. And that was why 'Natrah riot' happened in Singapore.

After being separated, Mansor Adabi wrote letters to Natrah without getting any reply. At last, Natrah asked Mansor Adabi not to contact her again, and broke Mansor Adabi's heart. He married another lady, working as a teacher and a lawyer, leading a wealthy life while Natrah suffered in Holland, marrying twice and migrating to the U.S, working as a cleaner. Natrah did ask to come back to Mansor Adabi but that was a different story (which i dont know, dont ask me abt it).

Natrah's monolog was heart-breaking. She cried for attention because nobody was listening to her, nobody asked what she wanted in life, how she wanted to live her life. Everybody was busy in the struggle, fighting for her and their religion. Two mothers fighting for a daughter, two community fighting for a girl, and two parties fighting for dignity. The Dutch can never bear the thought that a girl of their own flesh and blood being raised by a Malay lady; a supposedly weak and colonised nation eventhough that girls is married! It was a matter of ego and dignity to them. It was a story of struggle, of patience, of dignity and of love and romance (i'm pretty sure the love and romance was put in to make the play more interesting).

There was a scene when Aminah and her friend Mak Wok and Mak Wok's son; Mansor Adabi visited Natrah in the charity home in Singapore. At that time, Mansor Adabi wasnt married to Natrah yet. Planned marriage was a culture at that time, and so Malaysians watching the play will surely know that the two ladies planned to marry the two youths off. So, during the meeting, Mak Wok and Che Aminah teased the two of them. From the point of view of someone who didnt know the culture at that time, it will look so very weird that two mothers are teasing their own child in their very first meeting. Hence, i think this scene wasnt properly done. (Yea right Akmar, u urself cannot do it, complaint abt others plk =P)

However, all in all i think this theatre is worth the time and money. It is full of emotions and spirit. Compared to 'Tun Razak The Musical' which i watched few months back, i think 'Natrah' is still ok. Both plays featured the struggle Malaya went thru during the colonisation period. But 'Natrah' was more to religion than 'Tun Razak The Musical'. I'll give 'Natrah' a 7 out of 10. =)



  1. salam


    i also watcehd it..went on thursday-10/12


    nak gi tgk teater lagi...


  2. I'm not sure if she express her intention to embrace Islam later in her life but as far as the media is concerned, she died a Christian.