PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 January, 2009, 12:00am


Hong Kong Repertory Theatre

HK City Hall Theatre

Reviewed: Jan 3

Director Anthony Chan Kam-kuen offers a melancholic reading of this nihilistic piece by Albert Camus based on Caligula, the Roman emperor known for his cruelty.

The French novelist/playwright's work purports that underneath the dictator's seemingly insane and absurd behaviour lies logic and rationality. The irony means the piece can be performed as a tragi-comedy but this two-act adaptation by the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre takes a sober approach.

After his sister/lover Drusilla dies, Caligula (Yau Ting-fai) is a changed man, realising the absurdity of human existence. Since life ceases to have any meaning for him, he decides to make it equally meaningless for everyone else by randomly killing people, passing ludicrous decrees and 'making possible the impossible'.

Caligula is said to be a vehicle for young actors because the role offers psychological scope and depth. Yau responds to the challenge with limited success. Caligula's transformation from a broken man into a murderer is well handled but Yau lacks presence and charisma.

Ko Hon-man stands out as the patrician Cherea, who tries to understand Caligula before plotting his murder. Ling Man-lung plays a convincing Scipio, the poet in love with Caligula, while Rosa Maria Velasco's Caesonia, Caligula's wife, appears confused as she struggles between her conscience and love for the tyrant.

Runs until Jan 19. In Cantonese with Chinese and English surtitles. HK$120-HK$240 Urbtix. Inquiries: 3103 5900