A back-and-forth rally of love, politics and comedy will the Phnom Penh Players’ (PPP) latest performance, Mixed Troubles.
Performed this weekend on the Himawari tennis court, the story tells of two unlikely tennis partners flung together for a Red Cross Tennis Charity Event.
Against the odds, the American duo make it into the finals, where they face Russia in a fast-moving game of political satire, caricatures and the occasional bit of tennis.
Writer Zac Kendall said: “It’s a terrible thing but US-Russia relations aren’t very good right now, so it fell into our lap”.
Kendall, who also plays the role of Richard “Dick” Fischer, a washed-up semi-professional tennis player, teams up with Mimi Darling, a local high school student, played by Sarah Woods-Killam.
Their story, which unfolds through a prematch interview with an ESPN reporter and flashbacks to scenes both on and off the court, focuses on the relationships between the players and the significant others in their lives.
As the story progresses so does the relationship between the two main characters. “It’s about how the two of them relate to each other,” Kendall said. “He doesn’t have much time for her and she’s not very impressed with him.”
The PPP are an amateur theatre group that has been putting on performances for more than 15 years, with upwards of 80 people involved this year alone.
“We have 10 or 12 people that are in the full cast. It’s not huge but it’s a good size,” director Joe Conway said. “It’s a great mix of people – the youngest she is 9 – up to their mid-40s”.
“We have Australians, American, French, the most famous Russian impersonator,” Conway said.
Kendall, who is from the United States, has been a member of the PPP for six years. He studied playwriting at university and has written some eight pieces for the group, including last year’s PPP Christmas pantomime, Epic.
While the play has been scripted, as an amateur theatre group there is always going to be some spontaneity involved – for the audience as well as the actors, Conway said.
“We like to get the audience involved a bit. You don’t want to keep them there just sitting and watching,” he said, adding that the troupe had considered a splash warning for those to one side of the court.
All profits from PPP performances are given to creative NGOs in Cambodia. Profits from Mixed Troubles will go to Epic Arts.
“The last time we sent them money, later on they sent us photographs of the changing rooms they had built at the back of the theatre with the money we had given them,” Kendall said.
“It’s not intended for children,” Conway added. “It’s very much an adult show; there is no nudity but there is a lot of cursing”.
With the audience on one side of the net and the performance on the other, Kendall requests that all guests bring their sense of humour.
Himawari Hotel, #425 Sisowath Quay. Friday 7:30pm, Saturday 2:30pm & 7:30pm. Tickets are $10 and available at Willow Hotel, Flicks 1 and Pizza and Ribs.