Your lover has cheated on you. You have an emotional meltdown at work. The world suddenly seems meaningless. But everything gets turned around by moving into an empty, shabby apartment with paint peeling off the walls and befriending the oddball neighbor next door.
This is the backdrop for the character of Annie in Apartment 3A, a play written by the American actor Jeff Daniels that is being staged by TungCo Performance Group (膛口表演據團) tomorrow and Sunday at Crown Theater (皇冠藝文中心小劇場).
Annie, played by Chang Man-shu (張嫚書), decides in haste to move into Apartment 3A after a rotten day. She walks in on her boyfriend while is in the middle of performing acrobatic acts of adultery with another woman on the dining room table. Then she suffers an embarrassing breakdown at her job as a fund-raiser for a public television station, which culminates in her telling viewers during a telethon that Sesame Street’s Big Bird was going to die unless they donated money.
But Annie’s escape to a new neighborhood in a quest to start anew only places her in another love triangle. There’s the neighbor in Apartment 3B, Donald, played by Canadian expat Brandon Thompson, who invites himself into Annie’s apartment and warns her not to fall in love with him.
Donald exercises a weird charm over Annie, who starts to confide in him, but he tells her that he’s happily married even though his wife isn’t around.
At work, she is pursued by a smitten co-worker, Elliot, played by Ofey Chen (陳承佑). Patty Wu (吳可熙) also stars in the play as Annie’s landlord.
Daniels’ romantic comedy is full of fast-paced, witty banter that could go over the heads of non-native English speakers, so TungCo will be providing Chinese subtitles on a projector screen for the audience.
TungCo, a group of a half dozen actors and theater enthusiasts, was founded by 29-year-old director Don Tung (董紫儀), a Chaiyi native who first cultivated a love for theater as an English literature major in university and spent several years in the UK getting an MFA in actor and director training at the University of Exter.
As with many small theater troupes, TungCo is a labor of love for Tung, who teaches English during the day to pay the bills. The group launched in 2008 with a Chinese-language version of Edward Albee’s Zoo Story, and Apartment 3A is the group’s first English-language play.
Tung stumbled upon Apartment 3A during one of TungCo’s weekly readings and says he was immediately struck by its “entertaining” humor. But he finds Annie’s predicament — living in a world where “nobody cares” — even more compelling.
“Annie is like everybody, because we all have rent to pay, we have jobs to go to, and she is also looking for an answer for life,” he said.
“‘What are we doing here?’ she says at some point ... and that’s kind of the million-dollar question that everyone’s asking.”
What: TungCo Performance Group presents Apartment 3A by Jeff Daniels
When: Tomorrow at 7:30pm, Sunday at 2:30pm
Where: Crown Theater (皇冠藝文中心小劇場), B1, 50, Ln 120 Dunhua N Rd, Taipei City (台北市敦化北路120巷50號B1)
Admission: NT$350, available at the door or in advance through NTCH ticketing or online at www.artsticket.com.tw
On the Net: www.tungco.org, tungco.pixnet.net/blog
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