John Moran’s play Thailand is part of a sequence of plays, similarly created, which rely heavily on pre-recorded voices of both the dialogue and background noise. Moran mimes along and acts out the show in silence, although sometimes when he is close to the audience, the rasp whisper of his voice can be heard sounding out the words of the audio. His back-of-hand knowledge of the play is obvious with his almost perfect attention to cues. Moran succeeds in creating something like a film in his hour performance as the audio has a curious effect of creating an extension of the world that it captures and making the whole illusion believable. I felt like I had acquired the ability to create pictures and scenes through sound much like Ben Affleck’s does as a blind hero in the film Dare devil. Consequently the stage is black and bare, with the staging constituting of a few steps leading up to a wooden table, which added almost nothing to the performance itself.
A curiously intense character, Moran initially comes on as himself and explains that the play normally has two actors and so now he alone has to assume both the female and male parts. Although this seems comical, the transition between characters is remarkably smooth and having seen Youtube clips of him with another performer, there is certainly something very appealing about this one-man show. As a man he flings his arms nonchalantly and walks with a slumpish stride but is transformed into a hip-flicking, shoulder pushing, sometimes tease and sometimes bunny-boiler woman.
The play is divided into two strands, the first when he makes the decision to go to Thailand and the second when he is in Thailand. Within each strand he performs scenes and these scenes are then frequently relayed in a disorienting order. As it continues this is made to have a jarring effect and there is relief when the interval between strands occur. This is a moment where Moran can reengage the linear narrative of events and explain the process of his autobiographical movement.
Moran continues his tour around Europe and confess’ his desire to return to Thailand, disliking the western culture in comparison to a Buddhist led way of thinking and being.