Taking risks in love and marriage


By Elyse Ribbons (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-06-07 08:03

Backstage with Elyse Ribbons

By blending scenes from normal life, the avant-garde drama, Rhapsody for Non-lovers, gives audiences a fresh angle on courage, love and understanding.

By blending scenes from normal life, the avant-garde drama, Rhapsody for Non-lovers, gives audiences a fresh angle on courage, love and understanding.

Bringing you a roundup of all the best theater shows this week – because variety really is the spice of life.

One of the best things about Beijing’s theater scene is that it has plenty of variety and experimentation. If you’re looking for something that challenges standard stage practice, make your way up to D-22 in Wudaokou on Sunday, June 12, to check out Cheeky Monkey Improv.

A monthly favorite, the troupe performs in Chinglish, Mandarin and English (with a dash of Italiano as needed to spice up the night). While I’m perhaps slightly biased (ahem), I can say with confidence that the beer is cold, tickets are cheap and the laughter constant. Plus if you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to be dragged on stage and forced to participaculous improvisation antics. Show starts at 7:30 pm.

Stepping aside from shameless self-promotion, I’d like to recommend another very non-traditional theatrical event, the play Rhapsody for Non-lovers (an English title poorly translated by me as the Chinese title is a mouthful). Returning to the stage on June 11 and 12 at Chaoyang 9 Theater complex, the Santuoqi Theater Company show is a social commentary on love, marriage and the craziness of relationships in the 1980s.

Amazing reviews from its first run in 2009 point to the grains of truth embodied by the characters. The story revolves around co-workers, their wives, boyfriends and family pressures. Like many plays of this style, there are some choreographed quasi-dance scenes and lots of farce that will leave you giggling (even if you don’t understand the Mandarin jokes). As an avant-garde drama, Rhapsody also includes an eerie floating baby doll, musical interludes and intense lighting. Although not an English-friendly show, I still think it is wacky enough to entertain.

As a heavy hitter in the Beijing stage scene, the People’s Arts Theater is always a reliable choice for classic Chinese plays, and this weekend is no exception. Confidence, by Guo Qunhong, will run on the main stage until June 12 and stars several famous TV actors, as well as the incredibly talented house actors.

Set in Imperial China, this play focuses on the cultural gap between the scholar class and the average Beijinger, certainly an interesting dichotomy taken in the context of modern China. As this is its second run, Confidence is guaranteed to provide an evening of quality drama, although as I hear there won’t be any supertitles it might be a good idea to invite a Mandarin-speaking friend to go along – unless of course you’re “confident” in your language skills (I couldn’t resist, sorry). The People’s Arts Theater’s stage design department is top notch, and with a giant cast of characters dressed in period garb, at least your visual senses will be stimulated.

Hopefully you’ll be able to take some time to check out these shows and maybe even be inspired to experiment too.

Got a show coming up? Contact

METRO on 6499-5555 or e-mail metro beijing@chinadaily.com.cn. Read more from Elyse on iheartbeijing.com/blog.

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