Monday, 26 October 2009

wAve - Greenwhich Theatre (Tour)

wAve by Sung Rno
Director: Jonathan May

Reviewer: Gareth Ellis

British East Asian theatre company, Yellow Earth’s new play is described as a madcap farce which veers to tragedy, loosely based on the Medea myth.

When a Korean housewife’s American life starts to crumble around her, and her unloving husband is propelled to fame, she is forced to face herself and is completely overwhelmed by what she finds. Although this may sound reasonably straightforward, it is packaged in a production of strange script and greedy direction.

At the opening of the play we are shown what seems to be the start to a promising night, with a matrix-style Greek chorus and a man who can seemingly control time and space; but then they disappear for the entire play until the final two minutes, which leaves us wondering was there any point in having them there at all?

Unfortunately, what lets this production down is that the director, Jonathan Man obviously was not critical enough of his own direction. What we are left with is too many clashing theatrical devices and no clear concept to link the play from beginning to end; there were serious, expressionistic monologues delivered right next to wacky comedy acting and pastiche musical numbers…this sounds exciting, but it was cringe worthy.

The ensemble acted well (despite some dubious US accents) and did the best they could with a lousy script and 2D characters, especially Louise Mai Newberry as M. The writing is probably one of the reasons Man had trouble putting it on stage convincingly, the comedy acting (way too OTT) combined with impossible scenarios and characters we don’t believe in meant the laughs were too far between and chuckles at best. I found myself groaning at all the computer/robot puns concerning the robot actress created from the DNA of Marilyn Monroe (don’t ask).

The one good comedy element came from Tina Chiang and Jay Oliver Yip as TV hosts Chinky and Gooky, although their stand-up style scenes did nothing for the plot and stole the show.

On the whole, what we have here is a night of utter confusion for all involved which could have benefited from stricter direction, more conceptualisation and a leaner, more consistent and believable script.

Photos: Manuel Harlan

For more info on the tour, Click Here

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