True, you may not get to hear a lot of Shakespeare in Hong Kong, but you do get plenty of English-language variety in the amateur theatricals presented here. The English drama scene is small but lively, and the material is often original and relevant to local issues. David Andrews, better known as Uncle Dave, heads up Chunky Onion Productions. The company produces interactive comic theatre for children. The stories are based on well-known fairy tales and legends, but updated with a modern twist and filled with Hong Kong references. Shows are held at Grappa's Cellar Restaurant in Jardine House, Central. For a time, Mr Andrews ran a stand-up comedy club, and it was a natural move to open the stage to drama. Five years on, Chunky Onion employs three full-time staff and draws acting talent from a pool of regular performers. Suzanne Miao runs the Cheeky Monkey Theatre Company, which is often asked to produce shows for Uncle Dave. 'He hires us as a theatre group to produce and perform the show,' Ms Miao said. 'Our first was The Legend of King Arthur, in June 2003. The response was so good that we were immediately rehired to do The Ballad of Robin Hood. Their next production is The Three Musketeers, scheduled for September 24 and 25.' The group is small, and Ms Miao makes the costumes herself. 'We don't have the luxury of a production team,' she said. 'Basically, my friend and I do everything between us - writing the script, directing, producing, finding music and sound effects, photography, PR, props, costumes, casting and rehearsals. 'I do this because I love it, and I've had the good fortune to work with some very talented people. In Hong Kong, I got into theatre when Chris Lenz took me on at Igor's, the horror-themed dinner theatre restaurant, to write the scripts. 'I would attend rehearsals and watch the director at work. I learned a lot from there. I soon found myself being unofficial understudy and ended up on stage a fair bit when actors fell sick or went on holiday. The bug bit hard, and I'm still at it.' Canadian Jessica Caplan is part of a trio called Theatre Garoupa, which has a different focus. 'One of the things we put on is a show called Word Up! We take poetry and bring it to life through performance and interactive theatre. We've put this on at the Fringe Club, the Hong Kong Arts Centre and at Gecko. We have several versions of the show featuring different poetry.' Like many players, Ms Caplan does not confine herself to one kind of stage work. 'I've done a lot of theatre, here and before coming to Hong Kong. I have had principal roles in a few of the Hong Kong Singers musicals, and I've been a part of the Faust Festival for the last three years.' Bilingual actors are a boon for directors. Brian Burrell comes from Salt Lake City. Starting off four years ago as a part-time extra in films, he soon made contacts in the trade and now acts full time. 'My first stage role was in Cosmopolitan with the Chung Ying Theatre Company. They were looking for a Cantonese-speaking western actor, and I fit the bill,' he said. 'One of the productions I most enjoyed was Journey to the West, at Cyberport in May this year. It was a bilingual production, and I played the Monkey King, one of my favourite characters.' Hong Kong-born David Oxley is another common sight on the stage. He has been treading the boards for 20 years, with companies such as the Hong Kong Singers and Cheeky Monkey. His first performance locally was in A Life in the Theatre, a two-man play written by David Mamet. Comparing similar theatre here to that in Europe, Mr Oxley sees a big difference in terms of professionalism. 'When you say amateur dramatics, people automatically think of cardboard cut-out sets in church halls,' he said. 'That really is amateur. But here, when you go to see the Singers, the Hong Kong Players or the American Community Theatre, you are seeing the best of Hong Kong's acting talent.'