OzAsia Festival Review: Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land

Stan Lai is regarded as China’s most respected, contemporary theatre director. 30 years ago he started with a script and an improvising theatre troupe, and developed what became Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land.

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Presented by Stan Lai and Performance Workshop
Reviewed 10 Nov 2018

Stan Lai is regarded as China’s most respected, contemporary theatre director.

30 years ago he started with a script and an improvising theatre troupe, and developed what became Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land. This work has gone through multiple guises, including being made into an opera: it is still regarded as one of contemporary China’s most popular plays.

Two theatre companies have booked the same rehearsal space. One company is staging a contemporary tragedy, about the personal toll of Communist China. The other is staging an ancient comedy about relationships. Neither will budge, so they have to share the space as best they can, criticizing but also informing, each other’s work.

This is an epic piece of theatre: long, detailed, complex and yet oddly simple. There are laughs a plenty, sadness, food-for-thought and some stunning visuals, both in terms of scenic design and in terms of physical theatre. The acting is pitch-perfect, the direction tight and thoughtful and the staging a constant delight. This is world theatre at its best. And another example of how important OzAsia is.

The work is performed mostly in Mandarin, with English surtitles. For the best view of these, get seats near the back.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Twitter: @TraceyKorsten

Rating out of 5:  5

One Night Only – season ended

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