Theater Critique
文︰Cheung Hok-leung、Rick | 上載日期︰2009年8月17日 | 文章類別︰藝術寫作計劃學員評論


節目︰水中之書 »
主辦︰Hong Kong Repertory Theatre
演出單位︰Hong Kong Repertory Theatre »
地點︰Hong Kong Arts Centre Shouson Theatre
城市︰Hong Kong »
藝術類別︰戲劇 »

It is just a form of preaching for positive dreamers, yet a realization to some of the lost city souls.


The director, Stan Lai, uses his group improvisational method to build his gift with the actors / actresses from the Hong Kong Repertory Theater for the Hong Kong audience, "Writing in Water".


The story is about an organizing freak investment banker, Jason (Wang Wei), who has been just laid off from the company, suffers from hearing a strange Echo (Lau Shau Ching) of his own voice. Through this turning point, he goes from hating this dramatic voice, to getting to learn how to live with him and finally communicate with his deep soul. On the other hand, Vivienne (Rosa Maria Velasco) the Happyologist coach, Jason's girlfriend, has met a little girl (Wong Wai Chi) while she is handling the selling rights of her own old family house in Ping Chau. The long-lost memories and the secret of her parents are reviewed during a wondrous journey.


As per Stan Lai's quote in the meet-the-artiste session after the show, he takes this production as a gift to Hong Kong citizen. It comes up with the message of realizing the real happiness in this busy city. To talk about happiness on the stage is always a hard task. In the play, I am afraid there are too much talking and convincing people not to focus on capitalized living style, although Stan makes a good sense to build a character, Vivienne who is there supposed to be a preacher. Is happiness only that cliche, as if living as simple as it is just like Jason in the story who gives up his career after one failure and tries to pick up his violin, playing on the street at the end? I get the message as in who can have been a perfect dreamer; they get the essence of happiness. Is that true? Yet I appreciate much that the director leaves enough space for the audience to question their own lives and does not explain the unnecessary scenes such as the reason of the little girl's appearance.


Life is unpredictable. Not everything you need to find an explanation, I agree. After watching "Writing in Water", I fell in my deep thoughts about the life in Hong Kong, questioning if this city is that negative like what Stan Lai chooses to portray. I work in an event management agency now. Seeing thousands of investment bankers throughout a year, I understand how this play can remind them reviewing again to their day-to-day lives. Many of the bankers are really lost in the capitalized world. They spend their lives in earning money, to pay their luxury bills. Building up the growing spending world of theirs, then they suffer again from using much time to earn much money to maintain it. They seem like living in a dark cycle. But, as a theatrical point of view, I might question if that is enough for just letting all the audience realize what they usually fear to face. Frankly, it is kind of disappointing this time. Stan Lai created tons of great productions which could not be more inspiring ever. For "Writing in Water", it is obviously becoming the view points from a 'foreigner' towards Hong Kong. Yes, there are many signs of this non-stop city: 24-hours neon signage of McDonald's, psychos shouting on the street and Island line ferry. To show the real Hong Kong, or to spread the positive message to the citizen, I think the director needs to have a more concrete understanding of how people live here. There are thousands of people who do not even have a choice of living, so how can they choose to give up the capital or not? If you say so, you must really understand true happiness is from deep of your heart even while you are worried about your daily life everyday. Old residents become homeless after those housing estates are rebuilt; immigrant students who cannot finish their online homework as they cannot even afford to buy a computer, etc. For exploring what happiness is, should there be anything deeper than just showing the contrast of an unemployed investment banker and a Happyolgist coach?









Cheung Hok-leung