No love lost for tiring tale of lost love

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 August, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 August, 1999, 12:00am

SIU FOK likes Chor-yiu, but she only has eyes for Ching-nam. But Ching-nam is infatuated with Chor-yiu's sister, Chi-yiu. She, however, is madly in love with Lik-hang, who inconveniently is his uncle - and who, to complicate things further, cannot recover from a long-past fling with Mung-yiu, the sisters' mother.

Dazed already? Relax, for this is not all. Mung-yiu, a stereotypical Chinese wife, stays true to her husband and spurns Lik-hang, who in turn rejects Chi-yiu, who does the same to Ching-nam, who - finally some good news - gets together with Chor-yiu.

While you are busy with that tangle, imagine all this as a three-hour kitchen sink melodrama on stage. It is enough to make even the most tolerant scream.

It was not the romantic theme as such, but what made The End Of Love Generation rub the audience up the wrong way was its single-track obsession with love alone: this was three hours of never-ending whining. The Chinese title of the play, An Affection For Qiong Yao, was illuminating: it was a loyal tribute to Qiong, the Taiwanese authoress famous for tedious romance novels rooted in dated traditions.

The play's plot might just have worked though, if it had not been for the script's lack of subtlety. Characters - anaemic thanks to banal dialogue - poured out their all to everyone. The most minute details were acted out or spoken, leaving no room whatsoever for contemplation.

This was disappointing, for the play had looked promising at the start. The contrast later in the piece could not have been sharper. The limited space left for the actors to manoeuvre condemned a stellar cast to a thankless task. Josie Ho Chiu-yee's schizophrenic character, the impressive Fei-fei, who fortunately occupied a place outside the romantic tangle, towered over everyone else.

Whatever tribute director Joseph Lau intended for his idol Qiong, The End Of Love Generation served only to emphasise her outdatedness. But, given that more than a million people tune in every night to watch My Fair Princess, the TV series penned by her, tedious meandering is still key to this culture. The End Of Love Generation will do well - can a million people be wrong? The End Of Love Generation Cultural Centre Grand Theatre