Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Epic Arts most recent production Come Back Brighter a ‘cultural coup’



Epic Arts most recent production Come Back Brighter a ‘cultural coup’

Epic Arts is an NGO that uses the arts as a way to help people of all abilities into Cambodian society. Photo supplied
Epic Arts is an NGO that uses the arts as a way to help people of all abilities into Cambodian society. Photo supplied

Epic Arts most recent production Come Back Brighter a ‘cultural coup’

The most recent production from the folks at Kampot’s Epic Arts, Come Back Brighter, is nothing short of an astounding and moving experience for the viewer. With severely limited funding, they have pulled off a “cultural coup”.

My bias these days, by the way, is to avoid all theatre and dance events – I prefer live music and film – but wanting to support Epic, I recently decided to cough up the dosh and go along. And that was the best money I’ve spent in a long time.

Yes, indeed.

To begin with, the venue is undeniably gorgeous and saturated in history. The play takes place in an elegantly decaying small theatre where films and various cultural events were staged for many decades.

There is powerful “juju” in that place – one can feel the visceral presence of “things that once happened there”.

Not wanting to give much of the narrative away, let me just say that there is a logical timeline from the past to the present, as one would expect. This strategy works, and the build-up is tense and fraught with pitched emotion.

The exception is a potent short film that is shown early on about the couple that has owned and run the theatre from the beginning, in the 1960s.

Here is where the first of my rivulets of tears began to flow. The mixture of the unmitigated joy of the “bright and shiny” pop period of Sihanouk’s ’60s contrasting with the devastating pathos of the Khmer Rouge period was too much for me to remain unaffected.

This familiar story was told through the “vehicle” of this tiny local Kampot theatre, which is so emblematic of many other small-town theatres throughout Cambodia at that time. 

The only weak chapter of the show was the interpretation of the tragic KR “Year Zero”. I believe that it’s nearly impossible to adequately express the darkness and destruction of what the severely misguided and murderous KR did to Cambodian society, particularly to the cultural arts.

The choreography was the definition of brilliant, especially considering the available resources. The deaf dancers were impressive, as none of them were professionally trained.

One of the show’s standouts was the lead female traditional dancer during the presentation of a classic Khmer song accompanied by a live acoustic band – she was absolute “perfection in motion”.

The male dancer in the wheelchair was also exceptional. That man could, seemingly, do anything, sitting in, and away, from that chair – “freedom of movement” personified. That an extraordinary tour de force took place that evening is not an exaggeration here.

Come Back Brighter rises from the base of a modest and humble production to, surprisingly, an event of high import and epic proportions. In short, Epic Arts is epic.  Come Back Brighter is on every Friday night at 7:30pm until May 6.

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway