The first non-verbal physical comedy from Hong Kong comes to the Fringe – using clowning, mime, magic, martial arts, drumming and acrobatics to poke fun at the pressures to achieve academic success.
Three-time best director winner in Hong Kong’s Drama Awards, Tang Shu-wing choreographs a talented, delightfully expressive cast of five, which includes a world bodybuilding champion, Lisa Cheng. Through no words – just shouts, shrieks and squeals – they create a funny story in a situation that’s recognisable across continents.
When three schoolboys and one schoolgirl are trapped in detention together and forced to write lines, they decide to rebel in numerous ingenious ways. The minute their formidable teacher (Cheng) turns her back they’re off: slapping their music on, using the tables and a large bin as drums, dancing and fighting around the room. It’s wonderfully liberating stuff that pits childhood exuberance against adult authority and turns routine classroom activities into something extraordinary.
Two of the boys live out their petty rivalry – one determined to rock out to heavy metal, the other a fan of traditional Japanese music and dance. All the boys want the attention of the initially more studious girl, but she is soon drawn into a martial arts battle carried out to Blur’s Song 2.
The teacher is a purveyor of slapstick violence, slamming the boys’ heads into their desks and slapping them round the face whenever she returns to the room and finds things in increasing chaos. She’s a master of martial arts with a secret identity and I am picked to join her on stage for a duel.
Precision fighting isn’t as easy as it looks, though perhaps this is because I am hobbling around in a leg brace.
Still, she ultimately ends up head-first in the bin, I end up with a roll of shrink-wrapped cheese and everyone goes home that little bit happier than when they came in.
Rating: * * * *
Until 26 August. Today 1pm.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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