Introductory Text

Half Beijing, Half London

Lao She’s works, whether novels or dramas, exude a strong air of old Beijing between the lines or the utterances. The play, Mr. Ma and Son, is adapted from a Lao She novel from the 1920s. Playwright and director Fang Xu made a radical adaptation to suit the performance, adding his own style and understanding of the story while retaining the original ideas and subtext.

Watching the leads and listening to their language, audience can clearly feel the old Beijing ambiance. After arriving in the United Kingdom, Mr. Ma experiences all kinds of unease, on top of his own cultural disaffection. For example, when he encounters anything new and embarrassing, he comments “cheesy”, trying to first belittle and then deny it – a common behaviour of many older generation Chinese. Compared to Mr. Ma, it is naturally easier for his son to adapt to the new life. Yet, living in the British society at that time, both the father and son have to face various challenges, such as the conflicts between the eastern and western civilisations, between the old and young generations, and between the old and new eras, all of which are major drives in this play.

By Yang Xiaoluan
Theatre promoter, critic, seasoned performer, and founder of self-media “Theatre Go Round”.

This article is excerpted and translated from Chinese


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