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CURTAIN CALL: Snow Storm & Bestiality
From THAT'S SHANGHAI March 2008 Print & Web Edition

By Mina Choi

New challenges were tackled on the stage in Shanghai just before the whole city got buried under a heap of snow unseen for the last 50 years. First, the Shanghai Dramatic Art Center on Anfu Road decided to tackle yet another one of Meng Jinghui’s plays. The director who gave us the hilarious Two Dogs decided to give us yet another play in the vein of “they don’t understand it but they like it"--In the Mirror. This time it was Meng’s interpretation of the earlier poems written by a Xuzhou poet who came to fame in the mid 1980s. Surreal and disconcerting, the poems seem to be bordering on paranoia and madness, but on a stage, they seemed just bizarre and cryptic.

Unfortunately, Meng’s meditation on that vital yet tenuous relationship between poetry and written words versus drama and spoken words seemed to descend into the category of “they don’t understand it AND they don’t like it.” However, Meng’s canny production insights and musical genius made sure that the play, whether understood or not, got under everyone’s skin. I would say it was a victory of postmodern theater—where time and narrative no longer mattered—and the audience was left with an uncanny lingering sensation and a dreamy feeling that they could not shake.

SDAC is bringing back another jazzed up version of Patrick Marber’s Closer in March and Meng’s Two Dogs is back (yes, yet again!).

Meanwhile three theater lovers and idealists decided to create a new kind of adventurous and un-commercial venue for theater on Kaixuan Road (near Yanan Road) in Changning District. Named Ke Center, this new venue hailed the end of 2007 with a reading of Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? This unsettling exploration of the mid-life crisis of a successful and jaded architect takes an unprecedented and disturbing trajectory as only Albee can orchestrate. Unfortunately, I feared that something may have been lost in translation because that hush-hush reference to bestiality was interpreted by one Chinese audience member as “I think we all have a mountain goat inside of us.” Whatever.

The Ke Center is hosting another reading on March 14th, Friday at 8:00pm, a translation of Albert Gurney’s Love Letters. Following the themes of Meng Jinghui, this reading will also explore the relationship between words and drama: no dialogue, no physical interactions, just simple words, lifted straight from the love letters.

The very famous and sold-out Love in Peach Blossom Land from Taiwan is back at the Grand Theater in March and you may have to negotiate very hard with the scalpers to get a ticket as it is all sold-out.

February 2008, A Recap of the Spectacular Fall 2007 season (read)


For a complete list of Theater Articles by Mina Choi click HERE