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The Cult

Negotiable

Period:16 Oct 2014 - 04 Nov 2014

Address:1034/29-30, Soi Saphankhu, Rama 4 Rd., Lumphini, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 Thailand

Service day:Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Service hours: 20:00-23:00

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Official description

n this dark comedy, director Nophand Boonyai takes audiences back to 1984 when the national music competition committee sets up a macabre school who makes virtue out of wickedness.

- Thu-Mon 8pm. Democrazy Theatre Studio, 1034/29 Soi Saphan Khoo, Rama IV Road.

- 081-852-1641.

- Oct 16-20 B500, Oct 23-27 B550, Oct 30-Nov 4 B600; B450 (students).

Rating

Editorial Reviews

A scene from The Cult.

Nophand Boonyai’s new play is a divisive psychological satire

The girls at Monte Cristo School are overly demure and respectful. The school’s shrine has a spot for a picture of the country’s leader to which students bow with deepest loyalty and gratitude when passing by. They’re musically adept, but only with Thai tunes. (Western songs like those of The Beatles are strictly forbidden).

They dare not argue with their teacher, and each of them carries a “good deeds passport” wherever they go.

Nophand Boonyai’s new play The Cult, which runs at Democrazy Theatre Studio until Monday, is a comedy about a dark cult at the school and a student’s mysterious disappearance. Though it’s set at an imaginary school in 1984, everything else feels much like Thailand’s post-coup happiness, nationalism and goodness.

The story centres on two government officers, Saifah Tanthana and Suphasawatt Purnaveja (who later turns out to be Saifah’s alter ego/imaginary friend), who visit the school to tell the students they have been accepted to the national music contest.

Unlike his previous work Utopian Malady, a story about three writers being kidnapped and forced to write a plot to get the country’s leader out of a controversial mess, Nophand’s current play is far more ambitious. It’s another biting satire on contemporary Thailand like last time, but Nophand might have written too many concepts into The Cult’s roughly two-hour show.

The portrayal of the school atmosphere and students is a satire on Thainess, and yet the story of a secret romance between students and a male teacher is also part of the storyline. There are nine characters, and even the minor ones are given considerable space to develop themselves. And on top of all that, the play is also about the fear of a comet flying straight towards Earth.

Though the play is named for the cult led by the school headmistress Pattarasuda Anuman Rajadhon, much focus is given to the lead character Saifah’s personal problems: his wife wants to have a baby but he doesn’t, he’s an alcoholic, he has problem expressing himself and that inner conflict is represented by the character of Suphasawatt. Moreover, Saifah falls in love with one of the students during his visit to the school.

It’s refreshing to see the director’s sharp take on contemporary society. Pattarasuda’s role as a controlling principal and her elegance maintains this satirical mood throughout. But one wishes other elements — perhaps the lead character or the sub-plots — could help the play go beyond a reflection of contemporary Thailand. One could view the play as a psychological study of the lead character. Nophand’s inclusion of Saifah’s imaginary friend and his smooth direction in alternating between dialogues and Saifah’s monologues are quite entertaining. But then again, it feels like the play’s focus wanders and such parts stray from issues like the current state of Thailand or the strange school cult.   

People either love the show — laughing throughout — or think it is just all right, not certain whether it is a mess of too many ideas or a clutter of sub-plots woven together that your own poor intelligence fails to grasp.


- The Cult runs until Monday at 8pm at Democrazy Theatre Studio.

- Tickets cost 600 baht.

- Call 081-852-1641 for reservations.

Location

1034/29-30, Soi Saphankhu, Rama 4 Rd., Lumphini, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 Thailand

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