A Play, a Pie and a Pint: Secrets, Bedlam Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
The National Theatre of Scotland in partnership with Òran Mór, SaiTa (Beijing) Cultural LTD, Tian Qinxin Theatre Studio and the Confucius Institute
Graeme Maley (director), Lin Weiran (writer), Rona Munro (adaptor), Tommy Ga-Ken Wan (photographer), Davey Anderson (curator)
Helen Mallon, Mark Wood
Running time

A Play, a Jiaozi (Chinese dumpling) and a Pint may lack the alliteration of a Play, a Pie and a Pint but there any disappointment ends.

This third international season of the National Theatre of Scotland and Òran Mór’s A Play, a Pie and a Pint is from China and is the first season of new plays from contemporary Chinese writers to be presented in the UK.

Following the launch of an international new writing project in 2012, and with the collaboration of the National Theatres of Scotland and China, workshops and residencies in Scotland took place, and three new plays, translated into English and adapted by Scottish playwrights from contemporary Chinese writers, were commissioned for the season.

Secrets, written by Lin Weiran and adapted by Rona Munro, is the first play in this season.

The black draped space of Bedlam’s stage has as its only props two piles of house bricks. Within this minimalism a tense, tragic and thoroughly recognizable human drama unfolds.

The domestic serenity of the recently married young woman is blown apart by the arrival at her window of her former love. That single tentative step he takes over the threshold opens more than a door – it opens hope in the woman’s heart.

The cat’s cradle of their former and current lives unfolds over the piece as they share the fantasy of picking up threads and weaving a new life together. The vain possibilities are catalogued and imagined as they pitch hope against reason, dreams against reality.

This universal theme of missed love and compromises has been realized with great sensitivity and passion in the writing of Chinese playwright and screenwriter Lin Weiran whose work examines contemporary personal relationships while subtly drawing wider metaphors.

The adaptation by Rona Munro was smooth and unstilted; the Scots English delivered brilliantly by actors Helen Mallon and Mark Wood, with Wood’s own NE Scots shining through.

The play is punctuated by insistent rhythms and within the text is the poignant analogy of a woman as a ‘dish cloth’ and the beautiful line about ducks who have danced to love songs tasting best.

This is a compact and moving drama about a vain, pointless and destructive encounter that runs the gamut of emotions from anger and tenderness to despair and carelessness with all that goes in between.

An exciting Scottish début from a young female Chinese writer.

Tickets include a drink and the Chinese equivalent of a pie (Chinese dumplings known as jiaozi) £12/£10.

Times: 30 April to 4 May 2013, 1pm