Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Soldier and His Virtuous Wife
The Theatre Practice
Reviewer: Kenneth Kwok

The laughs are often cheap and obvious but that shamelessness is the essence of the play: Soldier is here to entertain entertain entertain and this it does with much colour and charm. The funniest moments are when this ridiculously over-the-top musical-comedy take on Chinese opera segues into Western pop cultural references and sensibilities (Bananarama, hip hop, vogueing) but really, the whole play is gag after gag. Kudos to director May Lan for her vibrant vision (and attention to detail - look out for the sight gags in the background) and the strong ensemble cast especially Darius Tan as the billionaire trying to lure the Virtuous Wife from her Soldier husband and Liu Hong and Katherine Tang as his sycophantic sidekicks. Utterly hilarious!


Reviewer: Ng Yi-Sheng

A rollicking good show! Though derived from the tropes and traditions of Chinese opera, The Soldier and His Virtuous Wife overflows with zany contemporary physical humour and wit, stimulating viewers with a non-stop array of song, dance and acrobatics. Director May Lan, who originally staged this Taiwanese musical here in 1996 and 1998, succeeds brilliantly with a new cast of gifted singers and actors. Joanna Dong is especially charming as Meiying, the virtuous wife herself, defending the honour of her husband who's gone off to war with equal parts innocent charm and ballbreakin' girl power, though, in fact, the whole ensemble packs a punch: the goofy husband Qiuhu (Ric Liu), the charismatic villain Master Lee (Darius Tan) and the kungfu-kicking Officer (Gordon Choy), to name a few. And the polymorphic anarchy of the show is unbelievable: arias break into pop songs, tea ceremonies dissolve into the macarena, servants hurl chocolate ingots into the audience and old mother-in-laws or lechers burst out with tunes from The Phantom of the Opera or The Magic Flute or Teresa Teng's Greatest Hits. It is mad, and in the best way possible: I barely stopped laughing throughout the 105-minute performance.


This first impressions review first appeared on The Flying Inkpot and has been archived here for posterity.

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