>>> SummerWorks review: Mr. Shi And His Lover


MR. SHI AND HIS LOVER by Njo Kong Kie and Wong Teng Chi. Theatre Centre Mainspace. Aug 7 at 6:30 pm, Aug 8 at 9 pm, Aug 11 at 5:15 pm, Aug 12 at 10:15 pm, Aug 13 at 1:15 pm. See listing. Rating: NNNN

Jordan Cheng and Derek Kwan deliver stunningly sung, highly nuanced performances in this contemporary original musical, the first Chinese language production ever presented at SummerWorks.

The play tells the tragic story of an illicit affair between narcissistic opera singer Mr Shi (Cheng) and his lover Bernard (Kwan), a former French diplomat, both jailed for espionage. Musical director Njo Kong Kie’s composition is mostly operatic in form, with a wide range of other influences, while Wong Teng Chi’s text borrows elements from films, plays, folktales and even a true story. Kong Kie backs the performers on piano accompanied by percussionist Carol Xuanyu Wang.

Despite surtitles, the production can be dense and difficult to follow at times, with Mr. Shi often misleading the audience as well as Bernard. The play also poses unanswered questions about gender, sexuality and identity, but the ongoing passion between the two characters is always clear.

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