Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lao Jiu 《老九》in Review - 22 July 2012

Consider this another first for The Mad Scene. Since this is an English-language publication, we have decided to go the extra mile by having my Basso Canaries partner Andrew Xiao pen his opinions in Chinese, while my thoughts are documented on an English review. Lee Kwan-Yew has often said that we shouldn’t take our bilingualism for granted, so here’s your chance to sharpen your skills.


Director Kuo Jian-Hong said in pre-production publicity materials that she intends to make this musical adaptation of the late Kuo Pao-Kun’s play more accessible by ‘Disney-fying’ it. And so it was filled with many entertaining song-and-dance routines, capably performed by pop-singing competition contestant Sugie and his co-stars. But once the glossy veneer is stripped away, one is hit by the same difficult questions that the late Guo had posed to the audience and exemplified by the title character: the question of whether you should pursue your dreams that might not be in accord with what society expects, or follow what others might think is best for you.

Such is the dilemma of Lao Jiu, being born with a brain that is smarter than most, and at most times stifled and weighed down by the tremendous expectations his family had placed upon him. We also see the effects of our rapidly growing society have made on the past generation, how the once-popular trade of puppetry has died off and bringing along with it the puppeteer's means of earning a living, and the elders’ hopes that their children can avoid suffering a similarly tough life through education.

And so the title character, with the world’s expectations weighing down on him, is at once a sympathetic hero and the unwilling villain of his family and other well-intentioned supporters. One is made unclear as to whether we should be happy or disappointed with the final outcome; while we are happy to see that he has finally found his voice, we are nonetheless unsure as to whether he has made the right choice.

The play gives no easy answers. Leaving the theatre after watching Lao Jiu, I came away thoroughly entertained but yet also filled with a strange sense of unease, strong emotions that are difficult to put into words. The genius behind this work is that in bringing up these hard questions in such a relatable character and in a societal context that we can all relate to, one is in turn forced to question his or her own inner psyche: what decision would you have made if you were in his position? What price are you willing to pay to pursue your dreams? For myself who is also pursuing an artistic career, the impact is all the more deeply felt.

I also came away with deep admiration for Sugie, who plays the title role. Throughout this 2 and a half hour production he barely gets to leave the stage, yet sings, acts and dances perfectly in time with his cast-mates; his boy-next-door demeanour makes you root for him as you would root for yourself, so relatable is his characterisation.

In the end, this is a musical with the total package: attractive song and dance, a star-studded cast, and a good script with lots of heart. It’s even a good psychotherapy session too!

==================================

《老九》----音乐剧感想录
作者:萧淳元

谁是老九? 老九本身有代表什么?这是我在观看已故本地戏剧大师,郭宝崑的代表作,《老九》刘晓义改编的音乐剧,《老九》所发出来的问题。

这次的《老九》的演出,阵容非常强大,集合了作曲;作词,戏剧界的代表人物。在演出时,场地坐无缺席。当然,演出的掌声也是很多的。《老九》讲述了一位年轻人在家中排行第九所经历过的成长故事,集合了追求梦想;爱情和亲情。

也因为《老九》集合了这些元素,加上了戏剧的效果,此剧才百看不厌。我本人觉得,《老九》这部音乐剧,就是观众本身的一面镜子。为何如此这么说呢?剧中的主人翁,老九,从小聪明过人。因家中最小,也是唯一的男丁,所以极被疼爱。读书也很用功,因此全家都对他很器重,尤其是父母。望子成龙,哪位父母不想?

老九也因为天资聪明,而被一个资力雄厚的名叫战马的组织看上。为了得到他,因此要发放奖学金,好让他在未来的日子,替组织办事。替组织办事就如铁饭碗这个名词,说白了,就是公务员。公务员本身也需要考试,因此老九也不例外。不论古今,当父母的都希望孩子最好能当官。这是从父母的层面说,做官必需要读书。至于孩子,读书是如打战。败了,做官这梦也只是南柯一梦。一面镜子竟有两面读法,可真有趣!

老九除了准备考试,他人因从小跟木偶接触,便对木偶戏有很深的情感。也因此自己开始有了内心的挣扎,该备考还是学木偶戏?这种挣扎,人人都会在某个阶段碰上。最后的决定,或许会快乐,或许会懊悔,我们无从而知。也可以说,挣扎是一个十字路口的问题,答案则是你的选择,你之后的动作就是你的结果。

虽然主人翁在剧中的爱情最终无法开花成果,但是这短暂的爱情在我看来很甜密。剧中的情歌也很动听。
谁是《老九》?在我看来,老九就是你我的镜子。它所表达的,是我们会面临很多难题,但我们不能退缩。选择是我们的权力,因此必须有勇气承担它的后果。

《老九》是部发人省思的作品。直得推荐!

================================

Lao Jiu runs till this coming Sunday 29 July 2012. Check out the Events Page for details.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Readers are welcome to comment without prior registration by selecting 'anonymous', but please sign-off with a name or alias.