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Players stage play within play

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Offbeat expat theatrical group Phnom Penh Players choose more mature fare for their next production, an adaptation of Michael Frayn’s comedy Noises Off

 

Photo by:

Eleanor Ainge Roy

Stuar Jordan, director of the intrepid band of performers known as the Phnom Penh Players. The group is to stage an adaptation of playwright Michael Frayn's Noises Off beginning Friday.

The Phnom Penh Players, a local expatriate theatre group, have been together for nearly a decade, though according to the group's director, Stuart Jordan, turnover in membership is high due to the transient nature of expatriate life in Phnom Penh.

Until recently, the Phnom Penh Players have specialised in an annual pantomime, often involving hundreds of children from local schools and tongue-in-cheek in nature, featuring everything from wizards to Elvis, and not a little subtle innuendo of an adult nature.

But Friday and Saturday at the Khmer Surin restaurant, the Players are moving outside the pantomime box with a performance of the very adult play Noises Off, by English playwright Michael Frayn.

Noises Off will feature a cast of nine actors, including one performer who has studied drama and two others appearing on stage for the first time. The play depicts the backstage antics of a theatre group in their last rehearsal before opening night, in Frayn's play within a play.

Jordan said the group decided to stage another production in between annual pantomimes to keep the group tight and the actors involved.

"We wanted to do something geared more towards an older audience so we had a bit of licence with what you do," he said, referring to the group's choice of Frayn's play.

Jordan says the production has taken about two to three months to come together, and while the previous pantomimes were rather "outlandish", Noises Off has allowed the Phnom Penh Players to spend more time on character development and intricate stage dynamics.

However, Jordan says the comic nature of the script has offered the group its greatest challenge.

"Your timing has to be spot on for a lot of the gags, and that's what we've been focusing on in the last few weeks, trying to get the jokes across to the audience. But the actors have been great coming up with their own ideas, and they've made my job very easy," he said.

The production also has more charitable objectives in mind. All proceeds from the performances of Noises Off are to be donated to the Kampot-based Epic Arts, a performing arts NGO.

Jordan says the group is also thinking of staging another production in October as well as introducing regularly scheduled Murder Mystery nights.

The Phnom Penh Players is always looking to increase its membership. The group encourages anyone interested in becoming involved to email Jordan Stuart at phnompenhplayers@hotmail.com.

Noises Off will be performed on Thursday and Friday at the Khmer Surin restaurant on Street 57. Doors open at 7pm. Tickets are available for US$10 at Rubies, Talkin' to a Stranger and Java Cafe.

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