The friends gleefully went, "Let's watch this! No English surtitles!" Win lor. I'd only understand about three-quarters of it; that's fine. The friends would help me out with the rest. Directed by Parnrut Kritchanchai (ปานรัตน กริชชาญชัย), 'The Place of the Hidden Painting' (นี่คือสถานแห่งภาพข้างหลัง) is every bit as entertaining all through its two hours.
The play is inspired by Thai author and human rights activist Sri Burapha's (ศรีบูรพา, real name Kulap Saipradit, March 1905 to June 1974) 1937 novel 'Behind the Painting' ('Khang Lang Phap', ข้างหลังภาพ). Of course I read the novel, both in Thai and its English translation. Had to do it for Thai literature classes. The original in Thai is a little painful to plough through. Heeeee. Although it's set in the 1930s in pre-war Japan, it's a classic Thai romance. Love, love lost, time, angst, honor, duty, family, obligations.
Luckily this play is happier than the book it drew inspiration from. Revolving around three siblings (an eldest brother and two sisters) who struggle with the younger generation's different perspectives and perceptions. The elder brother and one depressed sister basically do nothing and stay at home in the crumbling family mansion with the family maidservant, stuck in the past. They don't understand cellphones. Their house and lifestyle are supported by their superstar (model and actress) 41y.o sister. This sister comes back for a visit with her 25y.o boyfriend. The script even wrote in the most popular Thai magazine that people buy to read its horoscope and predictions. That set the pace of the play for the superstar sister to beware of the letter 'M', and all the comical juxtaposition of old and new ensued.
I didn't fully understand the characters' names that are intentional references to protagonists in Thai classical literature, but the friends patiently explained it to me. The acting was campy, fun, over-the-top and excellent. Very enjoyable! Glad I understood most of the dialogue, although some snark and jokes flew over my head. :P The play is a quiet critique of Thai society, its overt emphasis on traditions, etiquette and politeness, reflecting the conundrums within.
|Yes, the play allowed no-flash photography during the performance. |
But the audience (we) were polite and tried to be unobtrusive. :D