Tripitaka - Beyond The Legend

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2001, 12:00am

Heavy on text as well as spiritual and philosophical themes, Tripitaka - Beyond The Legend is no light, after-dinner entertainment. So why it is being packaged as such is anyone's guess.

Staged by Golden Lotus Theatre and directed by Chou Yu-ching, the production is a collaboration between the Taiwanese performing group and a 'celebrity' local cast including Ho Po-san, Cheung Lui, Lam Kei-yan and Chow Sau-lan.

It also boasts 'computer multi-media art', meaning most backgrounds are computer-generated images projected on to a white backdrop, as well as a different soundtrack for every scene.

But does technology and having actor Eric Tsang Chi-wai as its honorary consultant make this a 'world-class' production as it aspires to be?

Tripitaka is the monk featured in the Chinese literary classic Journey To The West alongside the Monkey King. This production promises to reveal the real-life history of the character, also known as Master Xuan Zang.

Tripitaka is set about 1,400 years ago at the beginning of the Tang dynasty when our protagonist is just 10. However, even at that tender age he is no ordinary child and impresses others with his precocious wisdom.

The rest of the show then charts his life and details his journey to the West - that is, India.

The costumes in Tripitaka are stunning. Much attention has been paid to the design of the clothes, from fine Tang dynasty robes to intricate Indian dresses.

And those who are interested in the spiritual life and thoughts of Tripitaka will no doubt enjoy the philosophical dialogue.

However, as a piece of theatre, it comes across like a television show accidentally transported to the stage. The computerised graphics look out of place, the music is abrupt and the choreography embarrassingly trite.

Taiwanese theatre is among Asia's finest, but one cannot help feeling slightly let down by this production.

Until October 12, 7.30pm.

APA Lyric Theatre. $180-$480 Ticketek.