Luscombe is angry about the fact that China has a repressive regime
that routinely violates the civil rights of dissidents and that the
West implicitly condones this by choosing to look rather at the
economic potential of the Chinese market.
anger he has written a play in which a Westerner discovers to his shock
that China has a repressive regime that routinely violates the civil
rights of dissidents and that the West implicitly condones this by
choosing to look rather at the economic potential of the Chinese
you might guess,
the playwright's political and moral message comes through loud and
clear, if a bit mechanically, while the drama is less successful, the
characters having difficulty becoming more than symbols and
reason other than that he's interested in the subject, Luscombe makes
his hero a Formula One race car driver, in China for a big race. Racing
allows Luscombe to talk about big Western money jockeying for a toehold
in China, but his hero could just as easily have been a corporate
underling, part of a trade delegation, or even a backpacking gap year
student; the Formula One is just window dressing.
the driver meet with a hustling Chinese journalist who is himself being
bothered by his dissident sister, trying to get him to help a second
dissident sister who has been arrested. The reporter, who has no
difficulty being both a passionately loyal Communist Party member and a
thriving capitalist, wants nothing to do with his sisters, since merely
associating with them could lose him all his perks. But the driver is
moved by the sister's story and tries to help, inevitably making things
nor the driver - nor, for that matter, the briefly seen millionaire
boss of the driver - is allowed to be much more than a stick figure in
Luscombe's metaphor: The Dissident, The Naive Westerner.
and the driver's female PR-person-cum-minder are given enough
dimensions and colours for the actors to shape real and interesting
characters out of them - the one finally beginning to buckle under the
strain of carrying several internal inconsistencies, the other
skilfully juggling crisis after crisis through a mix of professional
pride and real affection for her charge.
that's how it
works in performance. Andres Williams as the driver and Lucy Sheen as
the sister try hard but are just given too little to work with, while
Benedict Wong (reporter) and Lourdes Faberes (minder) are able to do
far more but, being essentially secondary characters, warp the play by
being more interesting than the principals.
directs and hasn't fully mastered the difficult in-the-round form
dictated by the Orange Tree's stage, as too many scenes have actors
planted for too long with their backs to half the audience.
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- Hungry Ghosts - Orange Tree 2010