REVIEW

Comedy looks behind first day of the week

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 November, 2014, 6:13am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 November, 2014, 10:02am

Black Monday
O Theatre Workshop
Kwai Tsing Theatre

In less than two hours, Black Monday raises the questions of a lifetime. Through six short tales, this dark comedy delves deep into the psyche of the multitude on the meaning of the first day of the week.

As a part of this year's New Vision Arts Festival, the play was so much in demand that a fourth show had to be added. For those who looked for a line that expressed the unspoken, there were plenty to choose from in words, songs and even mimicry.

Award-winning playwright Candace Chong crafted the script, focusing on work and life beyond the so-called hardworking Hong Kong people.

The most telling episode was the first tale concerning an office project manager in a car stuck in traffic on her way to work.

As she gradually raised her voice in a phone conversation complaining about everything from an uncaring husband to frustrations at work, a body landed right in front of her. After a brief moment of shock, she screamed: "Why is everyone in my way?"

The distortion of basic human values, such as putting work above life, was a main theme throughout. Another theme was problematic interactions among people. Scenes of people with smartphones or suitcases running into each other were all too familiar. Bullying at work was superbly brought out at an imaginary coffee machine.

The theme of mainland-Hong Kong relations also emerged in the frustration of a composer, whose work was banned in China and premiered in Europe. His line: "I'm in league with foreign forces!" drew a response from the quiet audience.

But in the case of a helper and an elderly lady in a wheelchair constantly contemplating suicide, the target of satire turned. The maid had nothing but heart in caring for a grumpy boss, a symbol of the city's fragility when it comes to the human touch.

The story ended on a positive note when the office worker and her husband reconciled after being on the brink of divorce; so did the composer with his executive wife, adopting kittens after failed attempts to bear a child.

The most memorable line was from a song by Jing Wong, sung in Bob Dylan style: "Hey Mr Policeman, what happened to you? Where is the hero of our city that we used to know. Hey Mr Politician, you are actors this we knew. But even actors do their research down in the neighbourhood."