Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A loving tribute to the incredibly, amazingly, absurdly talented Jo Kukathas

I met Jo Kukathas 32 years ago when she was teaching literature at the Garden School. Apart from performing the occasional skit with her siblings or reciting poetry to entertain her ebullient and extremely eloquent father - the late K. Das, former bureau chief of the Far Eastern Economic Review, best-selling author, political commentator, and arguably the foremost authority on Mahathiritis (long before it acquired the status of a terminal, practically incurable disease) - Jo had never been on stage, except perhaps in a few school productions.

At our very first meeting, I noticed she had remarkable control of her voice, and asked if she had tried her hand at acting. "Not professionally," she replied, and I laughed and said Malaysia doesn't have any professional theatre yet, we're all amateurs, so she ought to give it a go.

And give it a go Jo did. In a matter of months I found myself applauding wildly after a theatrical performance in which Jo Kukathas featured - can't remember which play it was now. All I know is that Jo has never once disappointed - no matter what role she took on.

I don't want to make this a full-blown essay on the versatile, vivacious and vonderfully high-voltage Ms Kukathas - she deserves at least a 500-page official biography - and I can't possibly do the woman justice with a single blogpost.

Let it be known far and wide, nevertheless, that I absolutely adore and admire this feisty, brilliant peacock feather in the cap of Malaysian theatre. If she had chosen to be born in the UK or the USA, she would most certainly be vying for her share of the Oscars alongside actresses like Goldie Hawn, Whoopi Goldberg, Glenn Close, Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep.

Jo, please take as many bows as you please.