5000 Roses

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 December, 1999, 12:00am

5000 Roses Theatre du Pif Studio Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre Until December 9 The modern age, indeed, has no room for indulgence in innocent dreams. This notion was exactly what Antoine de Saint Exupery wanted to rebel against through his literary masterpiece The Little Prince, a tale - at least on face value - of a young princeling's voyage through the universe.

How ironic that, more than five decades after its conception, this hallmark fable about the importance of childhood innocence has been forcibly moulded into a consumerist parody of itself.

On a trip to a local department stores I encountered all kinds of mementos: cups, watches, T-shirts and stationery. When I asked for the book itself, my request was greeted with a salesperson's furrowed brows: 'What book?', he asked - a reply that would surely have made Saint Exupery weep.

But with 5000 Roses, the consistently brilliant Theatre du Pif has triumphed in reclaiming The Little Prince from the claws of pragmatic capitalism and striking at the mundaneness of the modern life in one blow.

Taking cues from the book, the production proceeds to embellish the intepretation by weaving the repugnant experiences modern man has to endure for his existence: endless commuting and mobile phone conversations, for example.

In a time when entertainment-through-irony reigns supreme in mainstream performing arts, 5000 Roses is like a breath of fresh air, managing to evoke as many affecting images and messages as the original text itself.

Indeed, the production's supremacy probably led to it being 'lonely among men' - a small island of untainted innocence stranded in a cesspool of violence, vulgarity and disorder.

Only by seeing it would one realise how 5000 Roses tugs at the audience's heartstrings. Those who have not read the book would be overwhelmed by the sentiments, while those who did would experience how shatteringly moving it is when brought to the stage.

Theatre du Pif's early Christmas present to local theatre-goers is unrivalled and should be cherished with pride and affection.