24 August 2008


On Saturday I went to another Fringe show, Chess at the Universal Arts Theatre. This Taiwanese production of a Chinese story was a fantastic performance with spectacular costumes, based on the same story as Farewell My Concubine. I particularly liked the "bad guy" whose face was concealed by a mask all the way through, and it was only at the end the audience discovered he had been played by a woman. The dancing was beautiful, and the time seemed to pass so quickly - I could hardly believe that an hour had passed when it came to the end. The beginning and end of the show reminded me very much of Mong Yeon which I saw last week, with figures in white robes moving slowly around the stage.

Some reviews I read said that the English explanations given by the maids during the performance were difficult to understand. I didn't find this the case. By listening carefully I was able to make out most of what they said. The only thing I felt was that they gave away a major part of the plot too early.

I think there should have been an announcement at the start that cameras were not allowed (there was one about mobile phones). There were so many people taking photos that it became distracting (OK, so I was one of them at first, but I quickly realised that it was not fair to the rest of the audience). Someone did come round during the performance and told a few people not to use their cameras, but some continued to do so. The great thing was that there was a chance to take photos of all the actors at the end, as they came down and chatted to the members of the audience, so perhaps it could have been made clear to the audience at the start that this would be the case.

Later I went to the Scottish Poetry Library, where they had an exhibition of poetry by a Scotsman, Gerry Loose, inspired by plants chosen by his Japanese friend Takaya Fujii. This was accompanied by calligraphy scrolls and ikebana arrangements in beautiful handmade pottery. Outside a poetry group were reciting their work while sitting on the steps.

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