What A Performance

Nicholas Quirke was feeling heartened on 7 July 2020, having discovered that theatre was being produced again in Shanghai and having enlisted the assistance of Peng he had booked to see a Contemporary Chinese Comedy that night at the Hongqiao Art Centre. But before he was to savour the first theatre he had been able to see since being at the Moscow arts theatre six months previously; before his passion had been bought to its knees around the globe, he managed to indulge in a full and varied itinerary. His day started at The Peoples Park, not because of its botanical value which erred on the tropical, but because this was the park that featured in a really touching and compelling documentary, ’Leftover Women’, and is the location where the parents of daughters who have not found a husband; it is still seen as a stigma to be a single woman, a single man too, to trade photos of their respective offspring and play matchmakers. To his disappointment, and not because he was looking for an Asian bride, though it had crossed his mind he might be viewed as a good prospect, the gatherings in the park had been banned during COVID19. Still, it was nice to put a location to a story. It had been close enough to cycle and continuing the trend, he hopped on a bike again to go to the Yu Garden at the YuanYuan Temple. Getting into the garden was a major effort, he had needed to book for a morning slot in advance, show his passport and health kit, temperature but it was worth it. An oasis of tranquility and beauty in the busy noisy metropolis. It was surprisingly large and full of waterways and fish, pavilions, halls and even a stage, exquisite. He travelled quite a way across the city to have lunch at The Lakeside Vegan restaurant, where he ate Shanghai style lotus root and 2 varieties of Bao, one fried with sesame seeds and the other with a soup inside, delicious. The restaurant was close to his next destination. Qibao old town which was a very quaint collection of old style homes around a river and temple but it was largely full of establishments selling food and the smell of meat cooking was quite overpowering. Nicholas relaxed and enjoyed a cup of tea before heading to his final destination of the Arts Centre to see ‘The Count of Wulong Mountain’, a contemporary comedy about death, money and sexual politics which despite the language barrier he managed to follow quite well, he missed the subtleties of the dialogue, which from the gales of laughter was very funny, but physically he could follow what was happening and that with its creative staging too was funny and made him laugh . It was wonderful to be in a theatre again and the venue had sold out under its every other seat sales policy, and having endured the cramped seating of many English theatres made it an attractive proposition for him, if not economical for the venues. 14 actors peopled the stage there was close contact with all the characters, he suspected that strict checks on the actors and the crew were made throughout the whole process, from rehearsal and performance, but it’s was a clear sign that theatre was not dead and would revive. It had been a full day and and he was completely satisfied with what he had done. It was a good state to be in as he went to sleep.


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