Smiles, tears and unconditional love

Art January 14, 2016 01:00

By PAWIT MAHASARINAND
SPECIAL TO

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Dreambox's heartfelt 'Mom: The Musical' is a rare delight



YOU DON’T HAVE to be a dog lover to fall head over four heels with “Mom: The Musical”, a new stage adaptation of MR Kukrit Pramoj’s short story. You just have to know how to love, unconditionally.

After more than a year away from their home base M Theatre, Dreambox made a triumphant comeback with Daraka Wongsiri’s book and lyrics, which grasps the heart of the much-loved original story as much as hearts of the audience.

The audience cannot help but be deeply touched by how Mom, a mixed breed stray dog adopted by a small middle-class family torn apart by World War II, remains loyal to his master, notwithstanding many difficult circumstances.

And while the rendition of the war background scenes might seem to slow down the play at first, the audience is quick to understand the message: while men keep making wars, the pooches are doing the opposite.

Daraka’s lifelong collaborator veteran director Suwandee Jakravoravudh has made the right decision in choosing to use life-sized puppets, each manipulated by one actor-puppeteer, to portray the canine characters. She has also cast the right actors to play each dog and evidently spent long hours training them to work with puppets as many really look, sound and move like them. Much credit is also due to young puppet master Supthanit Thitachaiyasit. The stage illusion is as real as it could get and oftentimes the audience is watching and listening to these dog puppets as if they were actual dogs and could really talk.

Songsin Sirikhunarat as Mom is both sincere in his acting and excellent in his singing and can really carry the play. Equally unforgettable is Vasuthida Punwattana as his love interest Si Nuan and Kaewkarn Chuenpennit as his mother Waen. I’m sure I’m not the only member of the audience who will look forward to watching and hearing all three of them, professional singers who can also act equally well, in their next stage musicals. As Mom’s mistress, Teeranai Na Nongkhai is also convincing. With such a strong cast of singers and actors with more stage experience, Jitrakup Suntornsilpchai, as Mom’s master, is somewhat overshadowed, especially in his duet with Teeranai, and only shines when his character returned home after the war.

Composer Suthee Sangsereechon has delivered a masterpiece with the musical theme song “A dog’s shadow in the moon” and its two reprisals have enough variations to avoid repetition. His experiment in using dogs’ barking and howling sounds in some songs is also effective and endearing, though some tunes might sound just a little too familiar to fans of his work. Another letdown is the overwrought projection design, which makes the visual overview of this simple and touching play too busy.

A middle-aged man with long hair and a moustache was seen wiping his tears as he left the M Theatre last Saturday afternoon. He too has a dog, a slightly overweight and hopefully fully-grown one year old. The musical reminded him that there are two persons in this whole wide world who give him their unconditional love and for whom he hasn’t been able to do much in return. Perhaps that’s about to change.

 PAWS FOR THOUGHT

- “Mom: The Musical” continues on Saturday and Sunday and on January 23 and 24 at M Theatre on New Petchaburi Road, between Thong Lor and Ekamai. Shows are at 2pm and 7.30pm on Saturday and 2pm on Sunday.

- Tickets are from Bt1,000 to Bt 2,500. For details, (085) 416 6661-4 or online at www.Dreambox.co.th.