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

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • Delta spreading in Kingdom

    Cambodia has so far detected more than 200 cases of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant, with 109 found on July 31 and August 1. The Ministry of Health has expressed deep concerns that the variant may have already reached communities and be spreading as some of the cases

  • US' Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines arrive

    The first batch of 455,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine donated by the US touched down in Phnom Penh on the morning of July 30. They are part of the total 1,060,100 doses the US has pledged to provide to Cambodia through the World Health Organisation-led (

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four