Cambodia’s ever-changing band of expat thespians and storytellers are back again as the Phnom Penh Players are set to stage yet another new and original scripted performance this weekend in the glamorous environs of the Himawari hotel’s rooftop terrace.
The cast and crew, as always, remains an informal gathering of the city’s seasoned actors and willing recruits and part of the fun is spotting the unlikely faces performing well outside the grind of their day jobs.
The latest episode in the troupe’s canon, “Mixed Troubles,” is written and produced by Zac Kendall, who also stars in the play and penned the group’s popular series of offbeat pantomimes, including “Snow White and the Jackson 5” and “Alice in Pantoland.”
The play follows the travails of Richard “Dick” Fischer (played by Mr. Kendall), a failed pro-tennis player washed up in Phnom Penh whose ex-girlfriend, a U.S. Embassy official, asks him to play in an embassy-sponsored tennis tournament. He’s eager to win her back, but just as the tournament hits the headlines, she asks him to throw his big match to ease relations between the U.S. and Russia.
But there is another twist. Mimi Darling, his doubles partner, a high school tennis player equally jaded with the game, becomes his unlikely kindred spirit.
Billed as “a comedy about politics, kindred spirits, gin, love and tennis (but not necessarily in that order),” “Mixed Troubles” is likely to continue the Players’ trend of artistic refinement. Mr. Kendall is, after all, a full-time wordsmith—a former country-club kid who ditched his own career in teaching to fulfill ambitions begun with his undergrad degree in writing.
While he finds playwriting a natural outlet for his talent—“I’m a generally very sarcastic person I guess; I was just destined to be a pantomime writer”—the group was interested in doing something more serious.
Some of the humor in “Mixed Troubles,” as in the last Players’ outing, “Diplomatic Affairs,” comes from lampooning embassy culture in Phnom Penh.
Is there some truth there?
“If you are an English teacher riding your bicycle down the street in the rain and get splashed by a Mercedes with yellow license plates, you jump to conclusions,” Mr. Kendall said.