SINGAPORE - The black sheep of a family and Mas Selamat are parallelled in a new work by Alfian Sa'at Playwright Alfian Sa'at was pondering the brazen escape of former Jemaah Islamiah leader Mas Selamat Kastari from custody here in 2008.
He was struck by talk that Mas Selamat's family had dressed him in a tudung, or a Muslim headscarf, to evade capture by the police.
The 36-year-old writer tells Life! with a laugh: "I thought, this is an interesting image, this idea of Mas Selamat in a tudung and a baju kurung and all that.
"What if he slipped into a kind of wormhole and then appeared in another parallel dimension? What would that story be like?"
Alfian's upcoming work, Kakak Kau Punya Laki (Your Sister's Husband), draws parallels between Mas Selamat and the character of a fictional - and female - social outcast, Maslindah Binte Selamat, or Mas Selamat for short.
It stars award-winning Singapore actor Najib Soiman cross-dressing for the main role.
The work will be staged by homegrown theatre company Teater Ekamatra at the Esplanade Theatre Studio from Dec 18 to 22. It will be performed in Malay with English surtitles and also stars actresses Mastura Ahmad, Noorlinah Mohamed, Farah Ong and Maimunah Bagharib.
Your Sister's Husband revolves around five sisters. Four of them are successful modern women: a teacher, a real estate agent, an air stewardess, and the wife of a prominent banker.
But their oldest sister, Maslindah, is something of an oddity. She clings to her superstitions and beliefs in magic stones and spells, and sells curry puffs at MRT stations. She feeds stray cats. She is the outcast, the black sheep of the family - until she announces that she is in love and getting married.
Her sisters are quick to confront and question Maslindah. As they attempt to unearth more information about her mysterious boyfriend, they must also come to terms with their prejudices against her.
Director Fared Jainal, 40, associate artistic director of Teater Ekamatra, says while Najib will be cross dressing, he will not be embodying femininity as might be the case in drag performances.
Fared says: "What I like about getting a male, especially Najib, to play a female role, is that in portraying this outcast, there are certain things within her that have some male nuances, some masculinity, that only a man can actually portray."