A night with the Junkies! Phuket’s Junkyard Theatre.
By Barry Daniel
As a quiet, bookish type I’ve only taken LSD a few dozen times, but my recent Saturday night at the Underwood Art Factory Junkyard Theatre Show was far better than any other trip I’ve experienced!
Half way along Phuket’s By-Pass Road in the middle of the island, lies the Underwood Art Factory’s psychedelic parallel universe which has clearly been downloaded from interstellar space by creative mastermind John Underwood and his family, plus sundry local singers, dancers, actors, acrobats, magicians, gymnasts and wizards of theatrical technicality.
Enter ye into this stunning world of mystery and magic, only those who are prepared to have your minds most resoundingly blown!
As you walk into the ramshackle Arts Factory space and its welcoming Grind Café, your senses are immediately regaled and overwhelmed by a kaleidoscope of insanely creative artworks, icons, images and elements of pure, un-nameable mania.
The array of artistic, and frankly insane, objects that surround you in chaotic abandonment seem to fuse junk with found-objects and discarded bric-a-brac into wondrous, Monty Python-esque machines, unique artworks, and objects so strange that it’s a challenge to one’s senses to even comprehend what they might possibly be.
Presiding over all this explosive creativity is larger-than-life Aussie John Underwood and his son Zac, who will probably greet you by the funky bar as you arrive into this parallel universe, then guide you into the inner sanctum of the Junkyard Theatre itself within the bowels of their Art Factory.
The theatre itself is a cavern of mystery and imagination for sure, but remains well ventilated and socially distanced as has become a necessity in our chastened times. It’s here that the Junkyard ensemble work their creative magic while you are served with a deliciously decadent three-course Thai-fusion supper, not to mention playfully-crafted drinks, which you bravely attempt to devour between the uncontrollable gasps and the gales of helpless laughter which the show tends to unleash… no mean feat!
The show runs the creative gauntlet from a beautifully-sung ballad about love and life in Phuket from the prow of the Good Ship Thaitanic as the gorgeous chanteuse is groped by a retinue of ardent potential lovers of varying sexual proclivities.
Then onward to incredible athletic and gymnastic feats by Phuket’s very own Muay Thai Fighting B-Boys, street entertainers who are every bit as manic and breath-taking in their routines as anything you’ll ever see in the globally famous Circle du Soleil.
Then there’s a trip to a bondage dungeon replete with leather-clad Dominatrix with whips; there’s classic Siamese shadow puppetry of a Thai massage which goes hilariously wrong and becomes erotically out of control; there’s a full strip tease at an airport security scanner which traps the gawking security guard in an erotic hypnosis, while drug dealers and gunmen stroll through his checkpoint un-noticed; there’s even a phalanx of madly-dancing Corona viruses and naughty nurses to enthral you!
It’s all a crazy psychedelic trip of out-of-control imaginative inventiveness without the need of drugs any stronger than a cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc with your delicious supper!
The show is essentially a dynamic and ever-changing collaboration from an amazing array of local talents aimed at showcasing and satirising the local Thai, touristic and ex-pat experiences of life on this crazy island called Phuket.
Sensational costumes, fabulous lighting, visual gags, dynamic athleticism, sexy choreography and special effects and even an audience dance party that explodes spontaneously at the end of the show…. really this is an experience like no other and should most definitely not be missed.
The only way to really savour this uniquely creative weekly event is to go along to the Underwood Art Factory on a Saturday evening and experience it for yourself. Certainly, mere words can in no way do justice to the wondrous experience that awaits you, so I shall abandon my attempt to do so right now.
The Junkyard Show: Every Saturday Night. Click HERE for bookings.
Single Ticket Baht 2,500, including 3-course dinner, show and welcome drink. Programme: 7 pm Arrival; 7.30 pm Show Time; 10 pm After Party. Runtime: 2 hours 30 minutes, including dinner (alternative menus for dietary preferences).
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