Tuesday, 11 August 2009

A Load of Hong Kong Phooey

This wasn't going to be a theatrical blog but I've seen a few(!) shows lately so I thought I might as well share my thoughts.

We got eye-wateringly cheap tickets for Chun Yi and thought it would be a great show for Partner's boys (aged 10 and 11). They had been to Wicked and Blood Brothers, enjoying both immensely, to our great surprise.

I think if you're Asian and grew up on a televisual diet of hackneyed kung fu movies replete with honourable monks, wise mentors, willing disciples, and more hai-yaking than you can shake a nanchuck at, the plot of this production is going to make Hairspray an exercise in intellectual dexterity.

Having said that, the plot was never going to be the point and the boys, along with the audience ,seemed to love every high kick and air punch of this strange show. Part ballet, part Cirque du Soleil, part opera, part Karate Kid, part Kung Fu the TV Series and a sprinkling of fortune cookie exhortations, there is something for everyone.

The show revolves around a young boy's apprenticeship at a temple and the spiritual journey he goes through under the tutelage of a wise abbot. There's stuff about enlightenment and resisting temptation.

But action is what we expected and some action is what we got. And when we got it, it was very good indeed. The performers worked hard and their feats of sword bashing, brick smashing, acrobatic flying and soft landings all elicited the right responses.

In the end what is billed as "The Legend of Kung Fu" was nothing as such. It's great for kids, martial arts enthusiasts and maybe people who don't like theatre, but want to "do theatre". I thought it was a competent production which hardworking performers were let down by a laborious plot and uneven pacing. And no amount of dry ice, bubbles(!) and strobe lighting can remedy that.

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