Theatre review: democracy steps into the ring in Fight Night

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 March, 2015, 6:10am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 March, 2015, 1:14pm

Fight Night

Ontroerend Goed and The Border Project

Studio Theatre, Cultural Centre

Reviewed: February 26

What is democracy? It's a particularly relevant question for this city as it debates how it should elect its next chief executive in 2017.

And the Hong Kong Arts Festival contributes to this discussion by bringing Fight Night to town, an engaging and entertaining piece of interactive theatre that offers some insight into this political system.

Directed by Alexander Devriendt, the show's premise is straightforward: five actors are put on stage as "candidates" and only one will be left standing by the end of the performance after the rest are voted out by the audience.

Fight Night first appeared to be about the actors, and how they would outwit one another in order to survive. But as the evening progressed, it became increasingly apparent the show was less about them but more about us, the voters.

So who was "us" on this opening night? Under the guidance of facilitator Angelo Tijssens, we used a remote control device to "vote" on a series of questions that established the audience profile: statistically, it was predominantly female, single, aged between 25 and 44, and, apparently, earned more than HK$70,000 a month.

Next entered the five candidates and the audience was asked to use the same device to vote for its favourite candidate based on their appearance, beliefs, inclinations and so on. Everyone had a vote. All fair and square, it seemed.

But I soon found myself slipping into the minority; whichever candidate I chose, lost. The show reached its climax when part of the audience was persuaded to give up their voting right all together to "occupy" the stage.

Credit should be given to Devriendt, who tweaked the Fight Night format for Hong Kong - it worked. He also showed us the power of the majority in a "democracy".