Opportunity missed on a confusing home front

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 20 February, 2012, 12:00am


Show Flat
Hong Kong City Hall Theatre
Reviewed: February 16

Written and directed by Paul Poon Wai-sum, Show Flat follows a couple's search for an ideal home. It can be read as an allegory of human relationships, post-1997 Hong Kong and the current property market. Or at least that is what I think the quirky comedy drama is or can be about. This is by far the most conceptual of Poon's works and, frankly, the most incomprehensible.

It opens with rival property agents Keung (Chan Chu-hei), Ken (Cheung Kam-ching) and Goldy (Chan Suk-yi) mocking and cursing one another as they wait for their prospective clients, Eu Look (Lau Shau-ching) and New Seeland (Shaw Mei-kwan), to show up at a flat.

When the couple arrive, it turns out the trio are not humans at all but ghosts of the past - weird.

What follows makes little sense: there is a (fantasy) scenario in which the ambience/locale of the flat can be altered by plucking at a ukulele, as well as numerous references to the Battle of Red Cliffs from the Chinese literary classic Romance of the Three Kingdoms that have no context. On opening night, members of the audience were seen walking out a third of the way into the performance.

The parameter of this play is an interesting one and holds relevance to contemporary Hong Kong; it could have been a satire on the heated property market - how real estate values have been inflated by mainland money and how the local population is affected. But it ends up being an opportunity missed.

The script might look fun on paper but doesn't translate well onto the stage. Production-wise, Lau Ming-hang's lighting design effectively conveys the surrealistic mood of the drama and complements the aesthetics of the set by Ewing Chan.

Towards the end of the play, the confused couple keep asking each other: 'So what do you want to say?' It's the same question I have for Poon.

The production runs until February 28