Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Phnom Penh Players’ new show holds mirror to expat life



Phnom Penh Players’ new show holds mirror to expat life

A promotional poster for Missionaries, Mercenaries and Monsters, which is showing this weekend. Photo supplied
A promotional poster for Missionaries, Mercenaries and Monsters, which is showing this weekend. Photo supplied

Phnom Penh Players’ new show holds mirror to expat life

It's human nature to want to see your life reflected back as art. It’s exactly this kind of harmless narcissism that wins awards for movies about movie-making – think The Disaster Artist or La La Land. The newest play from the Phnom Penh Players, Missionaries, Mercenaries & Monsters, an original work, fits squarely in that tradition.

It’s a play about Phnom Penh expats for expats, written, directed and acted by expats. Although, in this case, foreigners may not exactly like what they see when they look in the mirror.

The play follows a group of people – all regulars at the same bar – as they navigate life in Phnom Penh. We see their ups and downs, their first dates and break-ups, their business struggles and successes. It’s the characters who drive the action forward, rather than a plot in the traditional sense of the word.

All the stereotypical Phnom Penh characters make an appearance: the bright-eyed recent university graduate embarking on a six-month stint at an NGO, the jaded expat who fancies herself wise to the grittier underbelly of life in the city, and the party-hopping young foreigner, living from cocktail to cocktail.

The Phnom Penh Players act out an expat themed party in the company's newest show. Supplied
The Phnom Penh Players act out an expat themed party in the company's newest show. Supplied

The whole thing is narrated by a young Khmer man named Narin getting his first look at barang culture, with all its foibles and faults.

The play’s writer/director, Rob Appleby, created the work as an homage to the friends and stories he’s collected in the course of five years living in the Kingdom, and much ofthe story, he said, is based on real anecdotes from his own life, as well as from the lives of the cast and crew.

“Write what you know,” Appleby said with a shrug. Expats here, he added, have such a wealth of life experiences, and “it’s a shame that most of the time people take their stories to the grave.”

The play’s overarching theme – as well as its title – is based on a thought exercise “common” in the past among expats in which participants argue over who among them is a missionary (a self-righteous idealist), a mercenary (a self-serving sort) or a monster (self-destructive, self-satisfied). The play could very well leave its audience uncomfortably questioning which camp they belong in.

The truth, we learn, is that the reflection staring back at us just might be a mixture of all three.

Missionaries, Mercenaries & Monsters will be showing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at The Factory, 1159 National Road 2, at 7pm. Tickets cost $10 and are available at Showbox, Lot 369 and KWest. All proceeds go to CamKids, the Cambodian Children’s Charity.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting