Wednesday, 25 June 2008

*** "running the silk road" (yellow earth theatre) @ barbican

wednesday 25th June 2008

"running the silk road"

yellow earth theatre

at the pit, barbican

Wonderful special show that held me gripped thru every moment
A story told with such honesty and care and belief and humour - tackling the big issues of our times (global warming, china’s exploitation of planet + people, the difficulties of carrying a secular sensibility into fundamentally religious lands, living out multi-cultural relationships) in- ways that were recognisable and true without ever falling into stereotype or platitude or preaching
And unlike last night's “marguerite” this show gave us the personal story alongside he big story - played out as a battle between the gods for domination of the earth using Peking Opera forms. this was coupled this with the book Ken carries with him that lists the strange monsters and creatures - locusts, snakes, dragons, tiger-striped beasts - and what each of these bring with their appearance -deceit, drought, flood locusts -all presented as nightmares emanating out of Ken's fever.
And inside these global battles (which culminate in the earth’s near incineration under a sky of 10 suns that have to be systematically shot down by the archer god to bring us another chance for renewed survival) the personal story of 5 friends from very different backgrounds, all very recognisable as 21st century Londoners, is played out through the journey of Ken's sponsored run along the Silk Road and through the very different difficulties each new land brings

Very special and wonderful on very many levels.
And with a vastly smaller budget leaving “Marguerite” a long way behind

A cast of UK and Chinese performers weave together two theatrical traditions in this enthralling collaboration. In 2008, the year of the Beijing Olympics, a group of friends from London set off on an epic journey along the ancient Silk Road trading route to China. Armed only with good humour, they cross the isolated terrain of central Asia, carrying with them an alternative Olympic flame to represent the dangers of global warming. The story of their journey is interwoven with tales from Chinese mythology. Classical actors from Beijing Opera draw on the zaju theatre of the Jin Dynasty, using dance, acrobatics, comic patter and music.

Yellow Earth is an award-winning East Asian theatre company based in the UK. It produces intercultural work that crosses art forms, boundaries and languages. Recent productions have been presented in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Chongqing, Northern Ireland, and as part of the RSC's Complete Works series in Stratford. Writer Paul Sirett works extensively for television, radio and film. His most recent production was the Olivier Award-nominated musical The Big Life, which premiered at Theatre Royal Stratford East and transferred to the West End.
Performance time: 19:45
Running time: 90 mins/no interval
In English and Mandarin with English subtitles


‘Visually sparkling, morally robust and imaginatively adventurous.’ The Times on Play to Win

"The running battle between Shen Feng's God of Thunder and Yanzhong Huang's Queller of the Flood is an epic tussle of incredible agility, while the cast demonstrate sinuous expertise in the manipulation of various dragons, serpents and giant insects.” The Guardian

“An unusual and ambitious play… an exciting prospect for the audience” Liverpool Daily Post

‘…a show that lacks nothing in its inventiveness in blending East and West.’ Independent

'...delivered with such a touching sincerity...' Independent

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