Private Life, Kung Chi-shing Music Theatre, Arts Centre McAulay Studio October 9 to 11 As part of Now '97 Festival, Kung Chi-shing's Private Life was a multi-media music theatre production about 'what modern people do in order to survive in this extraordinarily complicated world' - a production which managed to be quite complicated itself.
It started with Chang Hsien-jen laying in a foetal position inside a womb-like space mapped out by lemons. She was set against a backdrop of a video projection of floating people and accompanied by Kung on the violin along with loud, rhythmic recorded music.
Chang woke up cramped and in great pain, at times murmuring and at times shouting out, her voice drowned by deafening music suggesting we are born and trapped in a rootless world.
In contrast to this highly charged scene, Julia Mok sang T. S. Elliot's Mariana in a haunting ephemeral voice to New Wave neo-Celtic music.
Arthur Chiang demonstrated a range of clockwork toys while computer screens showing internet information were projected on stage, showing that computers are our modern toys.
The theme of urban man wearing masks rather than being themselves was portrayed by a projection of a Chinese opera singer slowly removing his thick make-up. Chiang approached Kung like an apparition with Kung's unfulfilled desire acted by the bare-chested Chang.
Kung demonstrated his range of talents using violin, electronic guitar, the Chinese pipe and acoustic instruments to evoke a rich variety of moods: frustration, anger, melancholy, mediation and despair.
Christopher Mok's evocative lighting made effective use of shadow and set the appropriate mood. Valerie Doran's lyrics were sometimes too abstract but often echoed the feel of the music. Julia Mok's voice was angelic and arresting.
The piece was sincere and reflective but references and allusions tended to be generic rather than specific to Hong Kong. Although rich in imagery, the piece, nevertheless, needed lighter touches to give it more structure.