There are expectations of a production from China that include wonderful costumes, graceful acting and plain scenery, and it would be a poor show if they weren’t there. They were there in abundance. The costumes were resplendent, the acting included some wonderful acrobatics and coded movements such as we have become used to in Chinese productions, whilst the music was engaging and after a while reassuring. There was an endearing a huddle of musicians to the very right of the stage.
The Shanghai Peking Opera Troupe exists to preserve an ancient form of opera often called Jingju. In our terms it is similar to a traditional Shakespeare play. Indeed The Revenge of Prince Zi Dan is their interpretation of Hamlet.
When the king dies suddenly his brother takes the throne and seduces and marries the dead king’s widow. She was in on the plot with him. She takes his side rather than of her own son, but he has word of the plot from his father’s ghost. The joker is the prime minister, Polonius in Hamlet, who is concerned about his own daughter. It all ends in tragedy.
For me the star of the production was Fu Xiru playing the lead role of Prince Zi Dan. And this was not just because of his amazing costumes and how he worked them, nor his voice or movements - but because of his beguiling facial expressions; they were spellbinding.
Event: Friday 19 August 2011 at 8pm.
Further performances on Saturday 20 August 2011 at 8pm and Sunday 21 August 2011 at 3pm.