Saturday morning started out on a bit of an odd note: Tawn and I stepped into the elevator heading to brunch, where there were already two passengers – a caucasian man and a Thai man, both older than me. As the door closer, the caucasian man looked at us and said, “Wait a minute, you’re Chris…” then looking at Tawn, “and you must be Tawn.”
Tawn looks at me. I look at him. There is a moment of silence.
“Yes,” I responded, “we are. I’m sorry but have we met?”
The man introduced himself and his friend and then explained that he had been on youtube.com and had searched on “Asoke Place” – the name of our condo complex – and received one hit, the short video clip I made about the painters rapelling down the side of the building to the tune of Mission: Impossible.
Once you view one video, you have the option to see the other videos a particular person has posted, so he proceeded to browse through my videos and now recognises Tawn and me. Our fifteen minutes of fame.
After that little surprise we took a cab over to Crepes & Co – a cute little restaurant on Sukhumvit Soi 21 – where we met Tod, Pun, Markus and Tam for brunch. The occassion was that we had tickets for the matinee of Tawipop: The Musical. I’d put a link there, but there isn’t really much to link to that is in English! Right: In the outdoor terrace area at Crepes & Co.
Tawipop is a Broadway-style musical, completely in Thai. It tells the story of Manijan, a busy young Bangkok professional with an unhappy boyfriend, nagging friends, and all the pressures of modern life. On her way home, stuck in traffic, her mobile phone battery dies. She parks the car and walks along a busy street, looking for a phone booth.
She is strangely drawn to an antique shop, where a white-haired, stooped old man says that he has been waiting for her.
In the shop is a beautiful mirror that seems to be calling to her. Attracted to it, she purchases it and brings it home to her modern condo. That evening, the mirror comes to life and she is drawn through it, finding herself back in the reign of Rama V (late 1800s).
There she meets Luang Thep, a man from a noble family whose house contains the same mirror, only about 140 years earlier. Over a series of trips through the mirror, she falls in love with Luang Thep and finds a way to be of help, using her skills at English and French to assist with neogitations with farang warships that want access to Siam’s waterways.
Her best friends are strangely unquestioning about this when she tells them, aided by a history book that mysteriously falls off her bookshelf, opening to a page that shows her photo and tells of her history in the time of Rama V.
Each time she travels through the mirror, it cracks further. At one point she realizes that she will be able to make only a few more trips through the mirror before it breaks. She tells Luang Thep that she will go back to see her mother and ask her permission to stay in the past.
When she passes through the mirror to return to the present, it shatters and Luang Thep fears that he has lost her forever. Caught in a strange place between the past and the present, Manijan is able to see her mother and talk with her, and her mother gives her her blessing to return to the past, where she will be happiest with her true love.
So Manijan is able to step back out of this in-between place and into the past, where Luang Thep is waiting with open arms.
All in all, it is a pretty accomplished musical. Good production values, good singing, etc. It has been geared so strongly for a Thai audience that even if it were translated into another language, it probably would not do much business abroad without a significant reworking. But it was an enjoyable afternoon.