Telling five short tales from the mystical fictional world of Jianghu, Fall and Flow showcases the beauty and physicality of Hong Kong theatrical traditions in combination with Théâtre de la Feuille’s Parisian polish.
A showcase of Hong Kong theatrical traditions with Parisian polish
Director Ata Wong Chun Tat, having studied under Jaques Lacoq in France, works with a combination of Eastern and Western influences. The performance draws on pop culture iconography as wide-ranging as Stephen Chow and Charlie Chaplin, fusing kung fu comedy and slapstick under the atmospheric brick arches of Underbelly Cowgate.
Loosely influenced by Chinese feudal history between ~1000 BC–280 AD, Jianghu is a mythic world in which many Chinese kung fu, mystery and romance stories take place. Rich in conflict and fantastical happenings, Jianghu is the perfect setting for theatre.
Among the common themes of Jianghu are the forces of good and evil, which the ‘Jianghu-xia’ – knights and wanderers – must reward or punish with violence if necessary. The first story of Fall and Flow is the Godfather and the Swordsmith, telling of the Godfather’s scorn for a Swordsmith who made him a sword he couldn’t unsheathe. The wrath of the Godfather falls upon the Swordsmith and his family and a fight to the death ensues.
Representing this binary further is a simple yet effective monochrome wardrobe, featuring layered black robes and linen scarfs to create a textured tapestry thrown into shadow by severe lighting. Contrasting props include a thick white rope and golden fans that find multiple purpose, while a single musician heightens the drama with command of traditional Chinese strings and percussion instruments. The stylised effect is enchanting, drawing us into the stories of Jianghu.
While you may not be able to tell where one story starts and another ends, the overall milieu of Fall and Flow is consistent and the fight for good over evil is one we can all follow, even if the two sides – for good reason perhaps – are not always explicit.