This is Not a Show About Hong Kong, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Laura Kressly

At the start of this piece that is definitely not about Hong Kong, we are asked not to take photographs. This is because the performers, who are absolutely not from Hong Kong, could face persecutions under China’s National Security Bill if they were caught making a show about Hong Kong. But this is all hypothetical, because this physical theatre show is not about Hong Kong.

The ensemble of two women and two men are highly skilled physical performers who create well-composed movement sequences with excellent physical control. They also play a variety of characters in different circumstances, some more abstract than others. A wobbly Lady Justice, a family fighting over dinner, and a couple dancing on broken glass are all striking figures, even if the connection between them and others isn’t always clear. There’s a think layer of symbolism and metaphor blanketing the work as a whole, and most of the content is likely not pitched towards those less familiar with the recent developments in Chinese censorship and regulation that led to extensive protests in Hong Kong.

Though the production is highly visual and excellently staged, it’s this abstraction that can make it confusing and difficult to extract meaning from – especially for people with limited understanding and no experience of living in in this SAR. However, like contemporary art and dance, it’s ok to take from it what resonates on an individual level. In this instance, depictions of everyday people and their families trying to survive new, significant restriction to personal freedoms and the sense of suffering and a loss of control are particularly poignant.

This is Not a Show About Hong Kong runs through 28 August.

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