Saturday, August 5, 2006
Rak and roll
If you're in New York, you've probably heard about the summer festival going on at the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts.
Last weekend an all-star cast of Thai rock stars was on hand to perform a rock opera adaptation of the Ramakien national epic. Ramakien: A Rak Opera (get it?), featured the likes of Modern Dog, Sek Loso, rapper Joey Boy, Palmy and Noi of Pru (Bangkok Loco fans know him as Krissada Terrence). Those are the big names, which you'll know if you follow the Thai music scene. There was also contemporary dance guru Pichet Klunchun, production collective Photo Sticker Machine (which is also Hua Lumpong Riddim, a music credit that's seen in Pen-ek Ratanaruang's films) and singer Rik Vachilipilun. New York performer Arto Lindsay fit in there somewhere, too.
Music was directed by Bruce Gaston, an accomplished musician of Thai classical music; choreography by Pichet and stage design by Rirkrit Tiravanija, and the show was masterminded by Tim Carr, a former A&R man who worked with the Beastie Boys but is now based in Bangkok and trying to manage to Sek Loso and some of the other groups involved in the project.
"Grandly ambitious and inconclusive, overstuffed and sketchy," is the word-byte I'm choosing from the New York Times review, which may or may not be still online. I think the reviewer, Jon Pareles, liked the music, he just didn't care for the production. "A concert tour might have been a better introduction to Thai rock, since the music largely became a backdrop to the stage images."
And, indeed, there were some rough spots, according to Soopsip in The Nation (page 12A, August 1 and August 3).
In the opening night's production, Sek Loso (playing King Rama) made full contact rather than just a staged blow with Noi (Hanuman the Monkey God). Sek, deciding instead to play the role of the moody rock star, then stormed offstage and refused to return to the production. Noi was later seen sobbing in the dressing room backstage, though not because he was hurt from Sek Loso's blow, but because he was distraught about the overall disaster of the production.
(Cross-published Rotten Tomatoes)