I’ve been asked not to tell you about the content of this play.
It’s good practice to not give away too much in a theatre review, but writer, co-director and performer Wang Chong, very early in Made in China 2.0, asked nobody to share information about this work on social media. It could get him into trouble.
Watching theatre can be thought-provoking, harrowing, joyous, life-affirming, confronting and a real pleasure to witness. Making theatre is hard work and it can be frustrating, thrilling, heart-breaking and eye-opening. Imagine not being able to see or make the work you want.
Wang is a director of an experimental theatre company in China, though he has made work all over the world, including directing the play Little Emperors by Lachlan Philpott at the Malthouse in 2017.
Wang has co-created Made in China 2.0 with local director, Emma Valente, and together they have crafted an intimate, one-man performance about his life and his life’s work.
Running at around 65 minutes, the show has a lot to say about theatre craft and how it can be used to present an idea without making it explicit. The true joy of this work is listening to Wang being open and honest about his craft. I could have listened to him talk for hours.
Props on stage can be a literal representation of that thing or they can carry hidden subtextual meanings, giving the audience an insight into character or as a reiteration of place or time or theme.
This show gives depth to a blank piece of paper. It invests in it such hidden meaning. It’s both ordinary and extraordinary.
Made in China 2.0 feels like it must be a catharsis for Wang and is a wake-up call for us, a Western audience, sitting comfortably in the Malthouse in Melbourne.
It's moving, insightful and intensely political.
But even saying that might be too much.
Talk about this play with your friends. Generate word of mouth. Urge them to see it. Go see it and have your world-view expanded.
But don’t post about the content of this play on the internet.
And, to keep Wang Chong safe, please don’t share this review.
- Keith Gow, Theatre First
Made in China 2.0 is on at the Malthouse until March 19.
Photos: Tamarah Scott