by Jung Chang adapted by Alexandra Wood.
Young Vic 66 The Cut SE1 8LZ To 13 May 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed, Sat 2.30pm.
Audio-described 12 May 2.30pm.
Captioned 10 May.
Post-show Discussion 10 May.
Runs 1 hr 25min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7922 2922.
Review: Carole Woddis 20 April,
Visual marvels in theatrical adaptation.
Unlike 13 million readers in 36 different languages, I’ve yet to read Jung Chang’s international, global best-seller. I can therefore only comment on Alexandra Wood’s adaptation in Sacha Wares co-US-co-Brit production as the piece of theatre presented before us in under 90 minutes.
What I can say is that as one of an increasing number of Anglo-American partnerships, Wild Swans represents yet another highly successful amalgam, this one involving the Young Vic, the Actors Touring Company and Harvard’s American Repertory Theatre. As such it also kicks-off what promises to be an exciting if wildly over-gluttonous summer of cultural fare and festivals round the country, this one being the inaugural production in the World Stages London season involving eight leading London venues.
British director Sacha Wares has done a fine and vivid job turning Chang’s emotional personal story of living under Mao into an epic that transcends mere commie-bashing and even manages to make fun of its excesses whilst staying true to Chang’s critique.
The Young Vic, freshly configured by the ever-inventive Miriam Buether converts the stage into first a simple earth strewn agrarian community (echoes of Joint Stock’s 1970s Fanshen) before evolving into dehumanised white walls and ultimately the teeming urban industrialised of neo-modernist China.
Buether and her team have wrought a miracle of visual physicality, the intensity of which becomes a thrilling metaphor for the work-oriented communist ideal before turning to ashes. At one point, the stage even becomes a flooded paddy field extending to the horizon via giant video projections.
If sometimes the spoken words fail to live up to the production’s visual virtuosity, there is no doubting the persuasiveness of the leading players, Ka-Ling Cheung as Chang’s younger self and, outstandingly, Orion Lee as Shou-Yu, Chang’s uncompromisingly principled father whose sense of injustice leads him first into becoming one of the Revolution’s zealots, before falling victim to its lies and excesses.
Humanism wins out over political idealism here. But on the way, Shou-Yu’s intransigency and goodness converge in his daughter, Jung Chang’s eventual escape to the West. Convulsive, instructive times.
Yu-Fang: Julyana Soelistyo.
De-Hong: Ka-Ling Cheung.
Zhen: Joanna Zenghui Qiu.
Jia: Jennifer Lim.
Team Leader Chi: Les J. N. Mau.
Heng: Victor Chi.
Ting: Celeste Den.
Bolin: Jon Kit Lee.
Shou-Yu: Orion Lee.
Huifen: Joanne Fong.
Dr Wan: Eric Chan.
Governor Lin: Ron Nakahara.
Teacher Shu: Annie Chang.
Er-Hong (child): Sienna Mayer, Isabelle Wang.
Niu: Jay Heyman, Peter Stevens.
Weimin: Oliver Biles.
Dai: Annie Chang.
Er-Hong: Katie Leung.
Guard 1: Victor Chi.
Guard 2: Eric Chan.
Director Yong: Ron Nakahara.
Community Chorus members: Annie Shi, Annie Wong, Carmen Lykoo, Chi Lee, Chinh Truong, Christine Cheung, Cindy Huang, Drapon Vongsa-Nga, Duy Nguyen, Frances Lee, Jade Chau, Jean Tan, Jessica Poon, Joyce, Lee, Kejing Zhu, Lannah Carbonilla, Leung Yan Wong, Linh Nguyen, Lucy Zhang, Lyman Y Heung, Marcus Hau, Mariou Yau, Mei Mac, Naomi Christie, Olivia Chug, Rachel Camille Muli, Richard Chow, Richard Lam, Ricki Chow, Sharon Chou, Sophie Hung, Tse Yan Choi, Vanessa Lye, Victoria So, Vivian Ng, Xiang-Ru Lin, Yan-Ping Mew, Yi Su, Yi-Wen Lin.
Director: Sacha Wares.
Designer: Miriam Buether.
Lighting: D M Wood.
Sound: Gareth Fry.
Video: Wang Gongxin.
Choreography: Leon Baugh.
Projection design: Tim Reid.
Puppet design: Michael Fowkes.
Music director: Joanna Zenghui Qiu.
Costume: Tom Rand
Hair/Wigs: Campbell Young Associates.
Sound Associate: Dominic Bilkey.
Movement Associate: Joanne Fong.
Research: Hong Yane Wang.
Assistant director: Kate Hewitt.
Wild Swans is part of the Young Vic’s International Programme supported by Bloomberg and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, with flights supported by American Airlines. Also generously supported by Jon & NoraLee Sedmak and Simon & Midge Palley. The production is part of the World Stages London
Wild Swans opened at the Young Vic Theatre London on 13 April 2012.