Exploration Theatre, Homecoming Shouson Theatre, Arts Centre, June 19-24 Exploration Theatre's 'Homecoming' was an allegorical tale about a bitter-sweet relationship between a mainland Chinese father and his long-separated daughter who was brought up by a Western family in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong-China allegory was heavily underlined by calling the father, Mr Chung (China), and his daughter Ah Hong (Hong Kong). Mr Chung grew up poor, looked down upon by foreigners. But his hard work eventually overcame this. His wealth brought him prestige and flattery, but not the respect of his daughter who had been separated from him all her life. The gap between them was narrowed when the girl learnt more about the history of her father through helping him to find her grandfather's old opera costume. The theme of the production, the need for an historical understanding of China, was boldly spelt out. Karley Ng's competence as a director was apparent with some creative staging and effective blocking. The Chinese opera scene between Kearen Pang as Ah Hong and Chung Yat-ming as the grandfather was well-acted. Kenson Chan delivered an effective, heart-rending monologue, recounting the past as the grandfather's friend. Gladys Liu as Ann provided much-needed, well enacted comic relief. The script, written by director Karley Ng, was not so impressive. The use of narrators to 'tell' the audience part of the story and explain what was on the mind of the characters, was too obvious. The script, from time to time, tumbled into stereotype and caricature. Tourist exploitation, money-grasping and spitting reinforced typical prejudices Hong Kong people hold against mainlanders. The production failed to offer new insights into contemporary China. The introduction of a ghost story was contrived and inappropriate. Although some effort was made to curb the sweetness of the play, sentimentality was magnified by saccharine songs and music. This sugar-coated production with its slick humour and quick storyline might have momentarily stolen the hearts of the audience but would have been better served by a grittier script about real people.