More than they could chew
by Simon Wu
AVEC Createur's Being Together was an over-ambitious play which dealt with homosexuality, bisexuality, child abuse and marriage all in one go. It fluttered recklessly from one major theme to another, shedding a prejudice here, a stereotype there and doing no service whatsoever to the gay community in Hong Kong.
It was a play crying out for more research, thought and authenticity.
It involves four characters in a complicated plot: a lesbian wife refuses to make love with her newly-wed bisexual husband whose lover is his brother-in-law. Sounds like a farce? Maybe, but unfortunately the play was anything but funny.
Every actor explained directly to the audience why they 'chose' to be gay, and here we have the fundamental flaw in the play - you either are or you aren't gay, it's as simple as that.
In Being Together sexual orientation is represented as a commodity - something you might pick up in Seibu if you could afford it.
The dialogue was dull, any plot twists easily anticipated. Chris Wai was most at ease with his role, although he was hampered by the stock characterisation. Amy Fong couldn't face the audience, Anson Lam went over the top and Wandy Fok was shallow.
If the play had been as tight as the set, this might have been a much better evening.
Presented by Doctors Act, The Aids Show was a multimedia performance. It was a moving and original theatrical event that never slipped into sentimentality and with a script rich both in content and form.
By using other media as well as dialogue, the play avoided becoming too introspective, and gave the audience space to reflect on the issues. There was even an audience participation game, led by Kwong Wai-lap. Different text genres - Cantonese, Beijing and Italian opera libretti, as well as poetry, and quotes from famous philosophers, novelists and playwrights - were also used.
The play began powerfully with a vivid, simultaneous bilingual description of the pain suffered by AIDS patients. It then went on to feature the conversation between two characters: a small time actor (Lo Wai-luk) and a doctor (John Chow) who is HIV positive with AIDS.
The actor has answered the doctor's magazine ad for a buddy, and their conversation provided the narrative movement, leaving the social and medical commentary on AIDS to be spliced in with TV presentations, slides and voice-overs. Interestingly the sexual orientation of the doctor was never revealed, and the dialogue avoided discussing the social pressures associated with this stigmatised disease.
Both Lo and Chow portrayed credible and convincing characters. The focus was on the feelings of the caring actor, rather than the doctor; it portrayed the living inheriting courage from the dead.
The play focused on AIDS not only as a disease but also a way of life. A powerful evening and a credit to the community it arose from.
Being Together and The AIDS Show at the Fringe January 25. The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket at the Academy of Performing Arts until Saturday 7.30pm.