The ultimate sacrifice
IN April, veteran actor Liu Kai-chi lost his youngest son, Man-lok, to leukaemia.
Later this month, he will play a biblical character who almost loses his son in the drama Abraham's Tear.
According to the Bible, God told Abraham to sacrifice his eldest son, Isaac, as a test of faith.
Abraham agrees to God's command and leads Isaac to the place where the offering will take place. He ties his son down, and, just as he is about to set fire to the altar, an angel appears and stops him. Isaac is saved and a ram is sacrificed instead.
No angel intervened to save Man-lok, however, and Liu, a Christian, couldn't help his son.
Man-lok was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of three. He underwent various treatments and, for a while, got better.
When director Hui Shu-ning invited Liu to star in the drama at the end of last year, there was still hope that Man-lok's health would improve. But his condition deteriorated rapidly at the beginning of the year and he died, leaving his parents and two elder brothers, aged 11 and seven, distraught.
'It was heartbreaking and I felt so helpless parting with such a lovely little boy. But I believe that it's not an eternal separation. We'll meet again in heaven,' says 53-year-old Liu.
'I still think of him all the time. Every morning, the first thing I do is say good morning to him.'
Liu says his experience has given him insight into how Abraham must have felt. But he tries not to equate the biblical tale with reality. He doesn't want to think that he was destined to sacrifice his son.
He says what he wants to portray most in the play is that Abraham is loyal and devoted to an ideal.
'The audience won't necessarily be Christian. But they can still appreciate that Abraham has a clear direction in life and is dedicated to pursuing it,' says Liu.
'Many young people don't have a sense of focus. Sometimes, to follow your calling, you have to make sacrifices.'
To make the story more relevant to a contemporary audience, the story is set in today's Hong Kong.
It begins with a well-known surgeon who receives a complaint from a patient.
The patient is furious at him for answering a phone call during surgery.
To save his medical licence and reputation, the surgeon blames his favourite student for the blunder.
Then miraculously Abraham appears and the surgeon, while conversing with Abraham, reflects on his own actions. He also thinks Abraham wanted to sacrifice his son for his own good.
Director Hui says he's not challenging the Bible with his play, but hopes to stimulate the audience to reflect on religion as well as their own life and choices.
'Abraham only became a great man after many setbacks. The important thing is that he learned from his mistakes,' says Hui.
'People should believe that they can be a great person too, even if they make mistakes from time to time.'
Abraham's Tear will be staged at the Kwai Tsing Theatre from August 19 to 22, and 25 to 27. Student tickets cost HK$60 (HK$120 for adults) and are available at Urbtix outlets. For details, visit www.lcsd.gov.hk