Li's maiden effort is a simple tale well told

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 February, 2012, 12:00am


Journey to Home
Hong Kong Arts Festival
Studio Theatre, Cultural Centre
February 10

Written by first-time playwright Santayana Li, Journey to Home is a bitter- sweet, semi-autobiographical drama about a young woman's search for, and reconciliation with, her estranged mother.

Though a Hong Kong story in essence (the play is in Cantonese), much of the action takes place in Taiwan, to where the mother emigrated after she left her husband and two daughters.

The play opens with the younger child (played by Kate Yeung) travelling across the Taiwan Strait to find a woman (Cecilia Ng Kit-yan) she barely knows. Though still a teenager, the girl holds the power in this mother-daughter relationship. And she demands to know why things happened the way they did.

The elder sister (Kwok Chui-yee), meanwhile, is a drifter, and is trying to cope with their reticent, chain-smoking father (Chan Wing-chuen) back home. The drama reaches its climax when he suffers a seizure when alone in the flat one afternoon.

Journey to Home is a simple story that is well and clearly told. Though the subject matter of a struggling broken family can be emotionally wrenching, director Lee Chun-chow uses humour to get the more serious messages across.

The production is full of youthful energy, its narrative free of unnecessary sentimentality and melodrama.

Yeung appeared relaxed and natural on stage, while Ng's portrayal of the mother was stiff and lacked warmth; as a result, her reasons for leaving her family behind in Hong Kong 'for a new life' remained unconvincing.

Both Chan and Kwok turned in a solid performance as a father and daughter trapped in a fragile yet dependent relationship.