The Kanjoos, an adaptation from Moliere’s The Miser, is Hum Theatre’s (Singapore) latest offering, running from May 11 to 13 and 17 to 19 at the DBS Arts Centre, home of the Singapore Repertory Theatre (SRT).
Directed by Dinker Jani and produced by Sakina Dhilawala, The Kanjoos is a farcical look at Kanjooswamy (Subin Subaiah), a scrooge and skinflint of the highest order, who’s not above stealing internet access from his neighbour’s wifi, or getting his electricity via a cycle-powered generator.
The widower Kanjooswamy’s family is made up of son Chari (Pavan J. Singh) and daughter Priya (Sharda Maxine Harrison) who find his miserliness unlivable and by the second half of the play, begin plotting his demise, especially when Kanjooswamy starts eyeing Chari’s love Tien-Tien (Clarice Jena Luo) as a possible wife for himself. Priya meanwhile is in love with Victor (Simon Wong), one of Kanjooswamy’s workers, but can’t reveal her love to her father as Kanjooswamy wants her to wed an older man, BG (Jerry Hoh), who’ll bring more money into the family.
Into this mix enters Jaya Lolita (Daisy Irani) who’s in debt and needs $10,000 from Kanjooswamy. She uses her womanly curves and sexuality to coax the money out of him, meanwhile promising him Tien-Tien in return. Tien-Tien on the other hand finds Kanjooswamy unappealing, but Jaya convinces her that she’ll do well to marry him as he does have money to his name and at 70-plus years of age, will surely kick the bucket soon, leaving Tien-Tien with a nice little pot of gold. Unbeknownst to the family, Kanjooswamy indeed has literally a pot of gold, having converted all his money to gold, which he keeps hidden inside an unused toilet decorating his backyard!
In the last act, Kanjooswamy discovers his gold gone, and chaos ensues as the police are called and Kanjooswamy’s maid-cum-driver-cum-cook-cum-everything else, Kok (Gerald Chew), accuses Victor of stealing the gold, which leads to a slew of silly revelations that bring the play to a humorous end.
Subin Subaiah is absolutely perfect in the titular role of Kanjooswamy. An actor with an established resume and recognizable talent, Subaiah nailed the role of a 70-something, stingy, grumpy old man. Attired in a veshti (sarong) through the entire play, and bearing an Indian-laced accent, Subaiah was both convincing and enthralling in his portrayal of an unreasonable man with a narrow vision of saving as much money as he could. Even with this convoluted story, which was pretty thin in terms of its material at times, Subaiah rose above the mere page with his body language and mannerisms that made him completely watchable on stage, and drew audiences to feast on his performance.