26 January 2007

The Tempest Retold พายุพิโรธ

This evening I just had a chance to watch a remake of Shakespeare's The Tempest or Payu Pirote at the Faculty of Arts Theatre in Building 4. It's the last one before the building is demolished to make way for a new state-of-the-art faculty building where there will be a new theatre, a jazz lounge, three swimming pools, a helicopter pad ... oops sorry I got too carried away!

The play was well-performed by a good cast. Though they're young, I was rather surprised at their ability to memorise those difficult, lengthy poetical lines of the Bard. (This sadly also means that I'm getting old and such a kind of memory is something I really long for.) Of course the verse has been translated into beautiful Thai, but I do wonder whether it would've been easier in English. Well, call be a snob but at some points in the play the profusion of beautiful Thai verse was a bit too fast and overwhelming. Maybe I was too used to cheap Thai soap opera and basically am in need of high-quality performance once in a while to cleanse my eyes and ears of filthy things they emit nowadays out of Thai television.

The setting was marvellous and I did love the fact that they did play with the concept of space. I sat by the side of the theatre and was able to be close to some characters. The room at the back became another part of the set, thus making the audience feel like they're stranded like the cast. I quite liked this philosophy and somehow felt like I was in a 3-D cinema where they had all sorts of equipments, like water spurting out and cold breeze blowing behind, to make you feel like you were actually in the scene where all this happened. (Mat and I went to a cinema of this kind once -- it was in the Paragon, next to the aquarium).

I really liked the guy who played Caliban. Whenever he appeared on stage, his witty and natural performance eclipsed other characters around him, even Prospero, who seemed a bit too stern and, with his sleeves a bit too long, looked more like a boy band singer than an island entrepreneur. But don't take me wrong -- I DO admire Prospero, his perfect memory, and his powerful voice, all these making him a rising star in future Thai theatre. But, to my opinion, it seemed like the guy who played Caliban looked like he was born for the role and his funny action didn't look forced at all.

The costumes were also good and pretty experimental. I loved Ariel's costume with inset lights. I really liked it when the whole theatre was dark and all I saw was just these lights from her costume, making me feel like I was at the bottom of the ocean. So hauntingly beautiful and scary at the same time!

The end of the play did drive home those messages the Bard tries to get across. Maybe what we need now is forgiveness and for Prospero it is a magnificent act. I didn't have trouble understanding this when I first read the play a long while ago. But watching the play once again this evening made me doubt. How could Shakespeare make Prospero change his mind so quickly it did make The Tempest a bit of an escape? Or maybe I've become too pessimistic to believe that people could reach such a state of epiphany and become benevolent? Or maybe I'm not that old enough to understand such act of kindness? Or maybe I'm just too evil? I think the last one is right ... :)

Anyway, that's nothing to do with the play. It's just my own reflections upon what the Bard tries to get at. The remake itself was overall beautifully rendered and those who appreciate the Bard's work shouldn't miss it at all, as the beautiful Thai translation of the verse has kept all these artistic merits intact. The music also complemented all this nicely. A thumb up from me! (But who am I to give this sort of opinion? This is clearly a gesture of a man who is so sure of himself and think of himself as an important critic. So I'd better put my thumb back and become humble once again ...)

For more details of the play, visit their official website.

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