29 November 2008

Sunflower ดอกไม้ในแสงแดด

For those regular theatre-goers, the name of Nopphan Boonyai has been established as one of the most interesting new-wave directors. Sunflower, one of his most popular plays, became the talk of the town when it was first launched at the Crescent Moon Theatre at the beginning of this year. Due to popular demand, it is currently being restaged at the same venue until December 7.

There are just three characters in this play but the number should not blind us to the dynamic that their interaction creates. Nop is a good-looking guy who is simply unable to be committed in a relationship. Orn is a confident woman who falls in love with a photographer who is already married. Tawan works as a 'love doctor' giving comments to those people who have problems about love. However, he himself doesn't fare any better, waiting for his partner, a real doctor, who will never return.

The influence of Wong Kar Wai reinforces the themes of love, loneliness, and urban angst. It's like these three characters just come fresh out of Chungking Express, lost and yearning at the same time. The motifs of a mysterious woman with a golden wig, pineapple cans, and the bird without legs are present in order to bring home such feelings as unrequirted love and desire with no definite directions. In other words, it may be said that these characters resemble us in the modern days, afflicted with yearning and desire, and the conditions are worsened by the fact that our desire is not fulfilled or once it's fulfilled we are not satisfied and want to move on.

Perhaps, quite accurately, the play portrays our long-lasting problem with desire. On the one hand, we desire something we don't have, can't have, or no longer have, such as Nop who remains scarred by his first love, Orn who desperately wants the photographer's love, and Tawan who injures himself simply as a pretext to see his estranged boyfriend. On the other hand, we don't desire something we already have and unconsciously try to reject this state of bliss so that we can desire once more. This, perhaps, may be caused by boredom and the contemporary way of life that requires us to obtain the newest, the latest, and the most modern. This lifestyle pushes us to fly higher and higher, until we forget it feels like to stay on ground.

But the play doesn't choose to portray only the negative side of these dire conditions. Even though the three characters have their own spaces in each corner of the stage, there're always three stools at the centre waiting for them to return, to chat, to communicate, to make pretense, to show off, or simply to tell stories. This interaction is equated with the sense of friendship these three people have. Perhaps friends are, of course, vital and their presence is needed, even though we all know that deep down we have our own space where friends will not, or cannot, intrude. Perhaps this is all there is ... Perhaps this is all we can have.

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