Writers: Mary Cooper and MW Sun
Music: Angela Chan
Director: David K S Tse
Reviewer: Sue Collier
On the Wire presents a unique theatrical experience within a restaurant setting. This play is the result of interviews with a range of Chinese people from the Leeds and West Yorkshire region. It examines issues of identity, gender, human trafficking, domestic violence, racism and political interference in family life.
Whilst eating a delicious two-course meal at Oriental City, a comfortable Leeds restaurant, the audience is introduced to an array of male and female Chinese characters who each present their own stories. Shore to Shore is a thought-provoking drama where a great deal of pathos is presented, utilising both comedy and music to compliment and highlight the issues raised.
There is a relaxed atmosphere, even though the restaurant is very busy and there is a definite air of expectation from the audience who sit sociably around communal dining tables. There is the opportunity for discussion about the play between scenes, but once the characters return on stage the audience quickly becomes silent and engrossed in the stories being told.
The idea of using a multilingual approach works well, with each character on stage speaking in English, Mandarin and Cantonese, making it easy for a range of audience members to understand.
The cast are versatile, dedicated and enthusiastic, and boy, do they make an impression of the difficulties faced by many members of the Chinese communities prior to their entering the UK. The main character, Cheung Wing, is played by two actors who represent both the young and the mature man, who, as a child was separated from his mother as they tried to escape the Japanese in 1948. David K S Tse is remarkable as the mature Cheung Wing and provides wonderful communicative narration throughout.
The stories impress the importance and comfort brought by the provision of food; particularly poignant, as the audience receive comfort via a flavourful meal.
When the play concludes, there is an enthusiastic applause from the audience who thoroughly appreciate the play, touching and strong in a unique experience. The production is well thought out from start to finish; an accompanying story book is provided and the final course of the meal is served at this point, giving the audience an opportunity to discuss the play.
Touring Nationwide | Image: Contributed