Neon Tiger: seeking the heart of Bangkok
Neon Tiger, a grungy karaoke bar off tourist-central Khao San road, sets the stage for two opposites to find themselves and each other in the busy heartbeat of Bangkok.
Neon Tiger, premiering in La Boite’s Roundhouse theatre, is a contemporary, musical love story between two women from different countries who come to Bangkok searching for something more. Andy (Lisa Hanley), an Australian-born woman with a passion for music but a severe problem with procrastinating, believes Bangkok will inspire her to write an album while keeping her distracted from repeating a history of questionable relationships. But it’s not Bangkok that holds her inspiration, but the passionate (opinionated) Thai-American girl, Arisa (Courtney Stewart).
Hanley’s performance as Andy is incredibly endearing. I could see in Hanley the lost, helplessly romantic, and easily infatuated Andy. Andy’s level of procrastination and incessant want for something more for herself, something incredible, is entirely relatable to the point where it’s almost painful (in a good way!). Here is this girl, chasing her dreams in a thriving, brilliant city, a journey that many wish to brave. Hanley is also the voice behind the musical element of the show. The music, composed by Gillian Cosgriff and with Hanley providing vocals, is spectacular.
Stewart’s character Arisa, the Thai-American girl who returns to the city of her birth in search of her and her mother’s culture, is both frustrating yet softening. I say frustrating because of who the character is, an opinionated young woman who doesn’t shy away from telling the world how she sees it (at times with little to no tact). Stewart does this character justice in the way she boldly holds the stage, pushing Arisa’s truths. And it’s the softer moments with Arisa that introduce a girl in pain, a girl we only see when she bleeds through the cracks of Arisa’s bolstered exterior. And while Hanley and Stewart do well portraying their respective characters, the lust between Andy and Arisa was not always believable.
Playwright Julia-Rose Lewis’s Neon Tiger has moments of incredibly insightful writing, but these moments are interrupted by regular blatant statements and explanations of the characters’ actions and emotions. The moments of insight in Lewis’s writing, combined with the actors’ interactions and Cosgriff’s compositions, are enough without the obvious statements. We don’t need our hands held on Neon Tiger’s journey, just a little encouragement.
Neon Tiger is a funny, endearing, and, at times, typically awkward love story of two girls in the heart of Bangkok. And I have one final question… is there going to be a playlist on Spotify? I need this music in my life.
What: Neon Tiger
Where: La Boite’s Roundhouse Theatre
When: Saturday 27 October – Saturday 17 November
Price: $30 – $60
Images by Dylan Evans