This two-act musical. drama written and directed by Noel Fidge tells the story of five Chinese characters living in Melbourne who each in their separate ways have a troubling secret and in their own way have had their lives affected by the Cultural Revolution and the historical events of the Gang of Four.
Chen Ting delightfully played by Yu Lin is a young university student who lives in a wealthy Melbourne suburb with her uncle Chen Fu. Perhaps the most innocent of the group eager to fit in with the Australian lifestyle, her family in China believes she is studying Commerce at Melbourne University. But is she really and how will they respond if they find out differently?
Raymond Khong plays the caring and sympathetic, yet troubled Chen Fu, a dealer in priceless Chinese antiques has established a comfortable life in Australia. He has a secret which he bought with him from China which he even hides from his wife in fear that there would be repercussions from the Chinese Government.
Po Goh plays another house guest Xiao Jun, the piano maestro, who once performed in the prestigious concert halls of Europe and New York. Discontented, and broken he is now content to spend his days in Chen Fu’s lounge room.
Chen Fu’s loving wife Song Mie-Lien played by Cindy Liu is also tormented by the memory of her now secret unhappy life in China. Is she really who she says she is, can she ever tell her tale? For fear of losing him, she keeps her secret from her husband.
The fifth member of this unlikely gang is Huang Chung, played by Maurice Wan. This successful civil engineer working on projects between Melbourne and China is a serious art collector and regularly visits Chen Fu. But he too is plagued with guilt and life-threatening secrets.
As an unexpected series of events unfold each member of this ‘gang of five’ in turn reveals their deepest secrets. As each tells their personal story as if by destiny the others contribute a possible solution as if their personal dilemma is somehow connected to the others.
This multi layers tale is told in both dialogue and song as each character emotionally telling their story is accompanied by Xiao Jun’s delightful playing on the baby grand.
It is not often we get the opportunity to see a live musical performance by an all Chinese cast in a contemporary play set in Melbourne. This was a first for me and I was most certainly and pleasantly surprised by both the depth of the story and the power of the musical performances. ****