Chinese Women’s Whispers

2016HANDMAE_AVH

Theatre

Spotlites

Venue 278

16.05

14 – 28 August, not Weds

****

 This is a very quiet gentle show.  Four performers invite us into their lives, and ask if we will let them into ours.  Gifts are offered and received, and deep connections made cross the barriers that differences of language and culture try to erect.

 

A woman sings as she weaves,  flanked by a young woman and a man doing what looks like tai chi, each very different in style, the man’s very martial and strong, the young woman’s very flowing, graceful and feminineWe are invited to close our eyes and are immersed in a vocal soundscape which sounds as though a baby is being born in a pigsty… (and learn the significance of this later).  When the lights come up and we open our eyes, the four members of the cast take it in turn to tell their stories, in Chinese, English and movement / mime which means that the language difference is no barrier to communication.

 

We learn of Nushu, an ancient Chinese script known only to women, and the support network they created, with lifelong bonds stronger than sisterhood: examples of this painted on to a scroll and a fan become gifts for audience members.  Tales of grandmothers prompt descriptions of audience members’ grandmothers which they translate into movement as a gift to each person who has contributed.

 

The show is very simple, without the frills and thrills, bells and whistles of the ‘average’ Fringe show – this a part of its charm, and helps illustrate the rural culture in which some of the cast grew up, and underline the changes that some have experienced in their lives.  The audience is invited to join the cast after the show, to learn more about Nushu and continue talking: I was very sorry to have to leave without taking up this invitation.

 

Not so much a Festival Show as a meeting and forging of friendships, an invitation to enter another world and become a part of other people’s lives, sharing stories and simple gifts.  The cast reach out warmly to us, inviting us into their world, delighting in sharing stories and simple gifts: it’s a welcome antidote to the hustle and bustle outside on George Street: come, relax, and enjoy!

Mary Woodward