Published on January 23, 2008
The Thai translation of the Presnyakov brothers' wickedly dark comedy "Terrorism" - now being staged at Tadu Art in Bangkok - seeks to detect the time bombs in our hearts.
Travellers arrive at an airport to discover it in the throes of a bomb scare. All flights are cancelled and people are stranded.
Thus begins veteran director Bhanbhassa "Kru Ning AF" Dhubthien's six-scene, comic-paranoid play "Prasad Taek".
It parodies the loss of all sense of security and human intimacy in a chaotic city gripped by political crisis. Newspaper headlines come to life and relationships form among witnesses and participants in various events.
The cast features both professionals and Chulalongkorn University drama students.
There is laughter at the antics of angry, frustrated and fearful urbanites in competition with one another, and the realisation that it is us who are being depicted.
The real stunner comes in Scene 2. A middle-aged married woman played by Sirinuch "Kru Koi AF" Petchurai has seen her husband off to the airport and welcomes her secret lover into her home. They're paranoid about being caught, but they also have rather sadistic libidos to satisfy.
Next up is a quarrel that erupts in an office following a colleague's suicide, pretentiousness and psychopathology spilling out everywhere. Then the staff members realise that the only way to resolve their disagreement is to be sincere with each other, and instead they return to their lifeless humdrum.
The most moving scene has two grandmothers (stage veterans Neeranuj Pattamasuit and Nalinee Sitasuwan) commiserating over their children's lack of attention. One of the women curses her son-in-law for her misery, and her friend suggests she take care of him the same way she took care of her hated husband - by killing him with poison.
A pathetic nightmare, or something that really happens in our ignorant society? For this reviewer, the seeming jest was very scary.
The press preview last Thursday brought out many of the stars of television's "Academy Fantasia" and the teen series "Nongmai Rai Borisuth". The play, boasting the talent of their former coaches, evidently took them by surprise.
"I didn't think it would be this dark," said one of the young stars, sitting behind me.
Though satirical, often inducing us to laugh at our own troublesome nature, "Prasad Taek" is a serious commentary on the human spirit's distortion through social obligation and political values.
The production shows great care in its witty details. There was wild laughter over the automatic doors and mineral water and such curiosities as socks and G-strings sharing the same smell. In these moments was confirmation that life is nonsensical - and always at risk.
Performances continue until February 3. Tadu Art is in the Barcelona Motors Building on Tiamruammit Road near the Thailand Cultural Centre. Call (08) 1559 7252, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit PrasadTaek.Multiply.com.
After this Saturday's matinee, Nikorn Saetang will lead a discussion on the social-paranoia issues presented in the play. Speakers include Chukiat Sakveerakul, the director of "Love of Siam", and Songklod Bangyeekhan, editor of
A Day magazine.
Special to The Nation
The writer can be contacted at email@example.com. Check out what's going on in contemporary Thai dance and theatre at blog.nationmultimedia.com/danceandtheatre.