Monday, January 07, 2008

We're marooned

We're marooned

The darkly comedic 'Wai Afraid' closes out a busy 2007 for dream box

We're marooned

Plublished on December 7, 2007

Weekend Magazine

Dream Box has had a busy year, having staged the popular musical plays "Mae Nak" and "Phon Nikorn Kimnguan". And next year the professional theatre company will be getting ready to present a sequel to the alltime favourite "Tuen Tuek". But for now, Dream Box is bringing 2007 to a close with lighter fare - "Wai Afraid" - that should keep theatregoes in good cheer. Daraka Wongsiri, contemporary Thai theatre's most prolific wordsmith, has revived her comic masterpiece "Wai Afraid", which debuted more than a decade ago at the Bangkok Playhouse.

In this original Thai play set in a resort somewhere in the Andaman Sea, a group of three young guys meet two girls. As the action plays out, they find themselves marooned on an island. Despite its flashy advertisement, the resort they stumble upon isn't quite fivestar. Enraged with the treatment they receive from the resort's owner Ratsameekhae, her daughter Mhai, and manager Prasarn, the gang plans how to get even.

"I've just finished the sequel of 'Tuen Tuek' but the work schedule of the original cast members didn't allow the staging until next year," says Daraka. "So, in the meantime, we stage another comedy. After all these years, the messages in 'Wai Afraid' are still contemporary. The differences and misunderstanding between young and old people remain relevant."

Suwandee Jakravoravudh, the most productive director in commercial Thai theatre today, adds: "It's been a while since we staged a play [rather than musicals like 'Ngern Ngern Ngern' and 'Koo Kam']. Besides, we note that whenever a social issue breaks out, we get to hear an earful from a 'cultural guard' like Khun Rabiebrat."

"It's evident that the older generations don't really understand the young ones in this everchanging world. And hence, we often have clashes of ideas. Although attempts have been made to bridge these generation gaps, oftentimes each side hold on to their standpoint so firmly that the clash gets out of control."

While the old protagonist and her ageing sidekick, the roles originated by Mondi Ketphan and Wasan Uttamayothin, are performed by Atcharaphan Phaibunsuwan and Yanee Tramote, two of best stage thespians in this country, a few other young roles will be filled by members of 'Academy Fantasia', whom Daraka and Suwandee worked with in 'Ngern Ngern Ngern: The Musical' earlier this year. Tanyanun "Jeen AF 1" Mahapiroon, Panupol "Joe AF 2" Ekpet, and Thammanoon "Kor AF 3" Tangboontina will all get meatier roles this time, and have a chance to prove their acting prowess.

Suwandee speaks of this casting scheme, which is not merely a marketing strategy like lots of playgoers may have thought: "They have high potential and are really interested in pursuing an acting career. And these characters' ages fit them well. We did acting workshops for them back when we rehearsed for 'Ngern Ngern Ngern', but this time the roles are more intense."

Daraka adds, "They are performing characters with dominant traits and they fit these roles perfectly. Another young star to watch is Evitra 'Nat' Sirasart. I'm certain Evitra will deliver a terrific performance in this play."

Not too surprisingly, Nat was a theatre major in college. It will be interesting to see how she revives the role of Mhai, which was famously performed by then heartthrob Kwanrudee Klomklom. Nat says, "This character is quite like me in person. Her dad left her mum, who was once a famous star. No one wants to cast her now. She sometimes drifts away in thought to her glorious past. She's so stressed that she frequently sleepwalks. Well, my character knows that she's eccentric but sometimes I have to do what she wants to please her, like dressing up in a very fancy style."

"We've been rehearsing every day. And unlike performing in TV soap operas in which sometimes it feels like you're working by yourself, this play, with so many characters, requires good team work."

"Wai Afraid" runs from December 14 until December 23, Friday to Sunday, at Bangkok Theatre at Metropolis, sixth floor, Big C Rajdamri. Showtimes are at 7.30pm on Friday and 2pm and 7.30pm on Saturday and Sunday, except December 15 when there will be no matinee show. Tickets are Bt3,000 (VIP sofa for two), Bt1,200, Bt1,000, Bt800, Bt600, and Bt400, available from Thaiticketmajor. For more info, call (02) 713 3532, or visit www.waiafraid.multiply.com.

Pawit Mahasarinand

The writer can be contacted at pawit.m@chula.ac.th

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