Taiwan Season: Monster

Monster choreographed and performed by Yen-Cheng Liu of Dua Shin Te Production is a show about the monster within us but the trouble with alienation is that it alienates the audience. Haze fills the stage and this unintentionally suggests that the choreographer has not made up his mind what sort of show this is and has lost its way.

The trouble with alienation is that it alienates

An enigmatic figure dressed in a white boiler suit and black balaclava (with no eyes) stands holding a long pole with microphone attached. Her significance never becomes clear. Many props litter the stage, all white. Again, what is the point of these? It takes a distracting amount of time for a lit screen on the floor to be moved from the floor to the back of the stage, then attached to chains to hang from the ceiling. Portentous messages are flashed on the screen such as ‘What is the time?... What is time?’ – an effort to give the show some philosophical depth. A ball covered in white paper is unpeeled to reveal a mirror ball which is then hoisted to the ceiling, its glitter a welcome relief. At last a bit of action.

When Yen-Cheng finally performs some very brief movements, he is stilted and clumsy kicking his legs like a spoilt child. Presumably this is supposed to enact his inability to express himself, imprisoned by the monsters in his mind. Sadly it just looks like he cannot dance.

There are flashes of humour but after the slow, ponderous beginning establishing a serious mood, it took a few minutes to realise that humour was intended. The first of these was when the balaclava figure lowers the microphone on her long pole to a tiny white radio on the floor to amplify its sound. The ridiculousness of this demonstrates a nice sense of irony. But this came too late in the show. The warnings outside the performance studio that the show contained nudity turned out to be rather more of a joke against the audience, since very little flesh is seen. I won’t describe what happens and spoil it.

These two inspired moments show that Yen-Cheng has talent and if he followed his own instincts and imagination he could produce a far more satisfying show than this cluttered, unfocused and unwittingly clichéd one.

Reviews by Stephanie Green

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The Blurb

Described by choreographer Yen-Cheng Liu as a psychedelic fantasy, Monster is a daring, intense and quite possibly mind-blowing questioning of one’s sense of self. Created for his company Dua Shin Te Production, Liu uses symbolic props, spoken and written text, a carefully chosen soundtrack and an explosion of motion to help pick apart the mystery of individuality. Because everything on stage has a purpose, everything seen and heard there is also a clue. Playing sober games with time and identity, Liu’s uncategorisable adventure might lead you to discover the dear, fierce and vulnerably human monster inside yourself.

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