Running The Silk Road

Liverpool Everyman, 3rd-7th June 2008
Written by Paul Sirett
Conceived and directed by David Tse Ka-Shing

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Combining physical theatre, Chinese opera, puppetry and electronic music, this production by Yellow Earth Theatre is an ambitious attempt to integrate eastern and western cultures.

Does it succeed? On most levels, yes. But the half-filled Everyman suggests that some people were not expecting it do so.

Those who stayed away missed little in the way of the bog standard acting on display, but this was more than compensated for by the spectacular dancing with long and colourful ribbons, the use of large puppets, the parading of flags, but more especially the dynamic but at the same time graceful confrontations between Shen Feng’s God of Thunder and Yanzhong Huang's Queller of the Flood.

Furthermore there was the haunting presence of two sequences of Beijing opera, with music composed by Suki Mok.

The fable centres on Ken (Nick Chee Ping Kellington), who is spurned by his fiancée (Gongxin Lan). Wounded by this rejection he vows to organise a sponsored run on the Silk Road, the ancient trading route between Turkey and China, attempting to reach Beijing before the start of the Olympics. It is hard to swallow but he is doing this in an attempt to win her back.

He takes along with him three companions, who alternatively help and hinder him in his quest. He carries with him a replica Olympic torch, which is green in colour - green symbolising his concern about global warming and climate change. Topical references are made in relation to the devastating earthquakes and flooding in Sichuan, but there is no clear evidence that they occurred because of either of those two reasons.

With the Olympics taking place in China in August there will be a deluge of cultural events to commemorate the occasion - this production would not go amiss in regard to that.

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