Two Silpathorn Award winners bring together their respective expertise in Maya Yak, a collaboration that, although marks a significant step and experiment for the artists, left only a faint emotional imprint on me.
Pradit Prasartthong of Anatta Theatre Troupe and Nikorn Saetang of 8x8 Theatre Group adapted a little-known episode in the Ramakian into a genre-defying and bold production that sees an intriguing, if not always effective, melange of forms. Maya Yak follows the story of Sukajarn (Pradit), a demon prisoner who becomes entangled in a plot cooked up by Totsakan's son Intorachit (Nikorn) to end the war between the demon king and Lord Rama. Sukajarn is assigned the task of disguising as Sita (Narumol Thammapruksa) and being killed in a battle to trick Rama into believing that his wife is dead.
Both Pradit and Nikorn did a commendable job of making the Ramakian more accessible to the contemporary audience, many of whom, myself included, are unaccustomed to listening to verses in literary Thai and have trouble staying focused when faced with such a language. The spoken, sung and projected words in the production are a spare and elegant combination of prose and verses. For the most part, the performers communicate through mime and dance. Pradit fuses pedestrian gestures with movements rooted in Thai classical dance, and the result is a language of movement that tames the codified ancient art form. Although Pradit's choreography could be more succinct, it is somewhat rescued by Sinnapa Sarasas' simple but thrilling sound design, which employs only two types of drums to colour and clarify moods and meanings of performers' gestures and mimes.
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