Posts Tagged ‘Gyuri Sarossy’

I’ve worked in China twice, on both occasions for British companies with operations there, both leadership and team development projects. The first was in 1999 and the second just over three years ago. Between the two, China’s rapid economic growth had changed the business world, bringing with it dubious ethics and poor management practices. By 2013, translation was being declined by executives lest they lost face; being known as someone who spoke English was key to career success. The consequential lack of comprehension brought huge issues. This play is about doing business in China and whilst I was watching scenes of poor translation leading to significant misunderstanding, I couldn’t help wondering how good the quality of translation and understanding of my words was!

Daniel is trying to sell signage for his ailing company in Cleveland, Ohio. He hires local Englishman Peter, teacher turned business consultant, and gets an opportunity to make a proposal to the Culture Minister & Deputy Minister of a large city. They are close to completing their new Arts Centre and will need bi-lingual signage, preferably without the translation gaffs of other projects. Daniel gets caught up in an extraordinary learning curve of misunderstanding, politics and corruption and only makes progress when he fires his consultant, gets lost in translation himself and does the counter-intuitive by exploiting rather than hiding his dubious past. It’s a very clever, and based on my limited experience, very authentic play, hugely entertaining, unpredictable and very funny. By using both English and Mandarin (with subtitles) you see exactly what’s going on, though Daniel doesn’t.

Tim McQuillen-Wright’s ingenious set allows the play to flow effortlessly from restaurant to office to hotel bedroom to home. Getting bi-lingual actor Duncan Harte to play a bi-lingual character is a real casting coup. Lobo Chan is totally believable as the minister, and Candy Ma is terrific as his Deputy, who goes on a very unexpected journey during the course of the play. There are lovely cameo’s from Siu-see Hung as the first incompetent translator and Winston Liong as the well-connected second translator, and Minhee Yeo has a fine turn in scene stealing facial expressions. It all revolves around Daniel, of course, with Gyuri Sarossy is on stage almost the whole time. It’s staged with great pace and attention to detail by Andrew Keates.

I’ve only seen one play by American playwright David Henry Hwang before, the sensational M Butterfly in 1989, long overdue for revival. He hasn’t written that many full length plays (nine in 30 years?) but we haven’t seen that many of them here. Two more weeks to catch this one at Park Theatre. Don’t miss it.



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As much as I love the Finborough Theatre, for the second time this year (the first was And I And Silence) I find a play which doesn’t really live up to the expectations created by the reviews.

This new play by Dawn King has a rural setting in a world of state intrusion. Farmers Samuel and Judith are visited by foxfinder William who undertakes a forensic examination of the farm and the farmers, seemingly on behalf of the state. Neighbouring farmer Sarah is the only other character. The farm is struggling, Sam & Judith have lost their child and their relationship is seriously affected. William’s arrival is badly timed and unwelcome, but they have to co-operate.

The problem with the play is that it is preoccupied with creating this mysterious world above all else. There are lots of plays with a similar theme and I’m not sure this adds that much to the cannon. It was a bit Pinteresque, though the opening pause and another close to the end seemed even longer than any Pinter created! 

I think that the intimacy of the space (even more intimate than usual thanks to James Perkins spare but clever design), the quality of the Blanche McIntyre’s staging and the exceptional performances of Tom Byam Shaw, Gyuri Sarossy and Kirsty Besterman seduce us into thinking it’s a great play when in reality its a great production of an OK play – which doesn’t sustain its (unbroken) 95 minute length.

I’ve never heard of the Papatango Playwriting Festival, but this play won it this year. For me, its good rather than great new writing and because of the hype, I left the theatre disappointed.

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