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Monday, 11 March 2013

Meaty parents.

Over the last decade or so the most obvious blank in the Bangkok art scene listings has been contemporary theatre, though now the burgeoning B-Floor, Crescent Moon and Democrazy groups are filling the gap – and in spite of what the critics may think, there really is plenty to chew on.

Employing documentary-style video, mock-interrogation interview skits parodying the brutality of both state and public judgment, before breaking out into farce in the form of a frenzied TV gameshow, Nophand Boonyai’s Adoption exposes the shortcomings of parents and would-be parents before unravelling into a participatory forum of reality TV with randomly-selected judges from the floor, putting the audience firmly centre-stage.

The meat of the discussion of the current performance at Democrazy comes in many courses. Not only are the parental shortcomings and the tendency of offspring to function as a desired commodity addressed, but so too is our own 'adoption' of parenthood itself as a means by which we advance – and indeed, too, measure
 – our own individual standing and success. 

It is though the presentation of Boonyai’s ideas that make real food for thought. And he achieves this not just by – like a generous parent – bestowing upon his gifted cast the sort of freedom (through improvisation) that all actors – like children – desire, but by actually being brave enough to ‘adopt’ himself random audience members. This is the director’s masterstroke: to allow the audience to demonstrate 
themselves his most meaty point. And so they do – so very keenly. As ad hoc judges they appear more ill equipped for parenthood still than any of the characters, which brings home heavily the eternal verity that the very universal defects of character, the follies and vices, the flawed nature of the human condition are to be found in us all.

At turns a biting tragicomedy and a bold, but endearing social commentary, Adoption is accessible, engaging, at times delightfully absurd, but ultimately a very profound piece of theatre.

Image credit: John Green via Nophand.

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