The Fool

The Fool follows the events leading to the incarceration of its 3 main characters thanks to a law known as ‘Kevin’s Bill’. Delivered in a mix of Chinese with English subtitles and English, this is a near-future satirical comedy which uses a large amount of physical theatre and clowning.

If you want something completely out of the ordinary to see, I would recommend this out-there pioneering piece.

There is a marked and significant difference between English and Chinese theatrical styles, not only in the acting – which is a lot more stylised to the point of being comparable to British Pantomime – but also in the focus on set, design and the visual elements of the stage. And this show is no exception to that cultural rule. However, once we acclimatise to the style, it takes us in and adds to our experience of the story.

The music (by Zhang Xiao Ke) and lighting (by Kong Wei) are expertly manipulated by Shen Wei in the technical box, and Rao Xiao Zhi’s vision has come together with skill and coordination. It is a high-tech show using multimedia to great effect, which contrasts nicely with the minimalist stage. For a fringe production, it’s rather an impressive creation.

It is hard to critique the cast from a western acting perspective, however they all are obviously very skilled. The style is closest to a mixture of clowning, mime and physical theatre, all of which are used with high degrees of skill to great effect. Cheng Yi is particularly excellent, skilfully manipulating the audience with her acting ability. She is a joy to watch, along with Zhang Yu and Li You who make up this 3-hander troupe.

Although there are some failings (the translation is often less than perfect), if you want something completely out of the ordinary to see, I would recommend this out-there pioneering piece.

Reviews by Dixon Baskerville

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The Blurb

In an imaginary future, the state’s most popular live show is reaching its grand finale. Three candidates, condemned by Kevin’s Bill, are doing their best to prove their foolishness in order to win your favour and their freedom. Triggered by reports of victims who were blamed by public opinion, and televiewers’ obsession with live shows, Fool is a fable and a revelry. Directed by Rao Xiao Zhi, The Fool marks the Fringe debut of this multi award-winning Chinese director, whose productions are conceived as sharp, humorous and powerful.

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