2009年2月12日 星期四

A Village you won’t forget

by Adeline Chia
Art Reporter
The Straits Times / 9th February 2009

Emotions are so real in this stunning epic that people are left crying and laughing at the same time.

There are few productions that sweep Singaporeans, who are known for their cool restraint, into an almost full-house standing ovation when the curtains fall. The Village is one of them.

Stan Lai, most famous for Secret Love In Peach Blossom Land, has created a stunning 3 ½- hour epic, an exhausting but nourishing journey that left audiences laughing and crying – sometimes at the same time.

The Village is set in a Dependent’s Village in Taiwan’s Chiayi, where Kumintang soldiers and their families flee to during the 1949 Chinese civil war.

At night, using the stars to navigate, the officers look out towards their home provinces in China, expecting to return some day.

Butt they never do, and the Formosa #1 Village in the play eventually becomes a home they did not choose but grow to love, and later, it is a home their children cannot wit to leave.

A delightful motley crue of characters populates the play; the reprimanding mothers, the helpful but sometimes helpless fathers, brusque sons, the nerd, the belles from the neighbouring village and a mysterious slow-walking Madame Lu with her companion who never speaks.

It is easy for this production to fall prey to sentimentality, as it is explicitly a form of documentary theatre based on these fast-disappearing villages. But as a playwright, Lai knows how to tell a story and let it speak for itself.; as a director, he knows how to orchestrate shifts in emotions and to stage a play with visual aplomb.

The script is a series of sketches linked together by narrators, not the most original of structures, but there can be no complaints about the sophistication of the sketches.

Lai calibrates the scenes sensitively. Conversations between lovers in the bomb shelter are quiet and tender while rowdy scenes of mayhem turn into exciting feats of choreography.

From high comedy to high tragedy, the emotions are genuine, never ersatz.

There are delightful segments where the men sit around having their “political” debates.

Many laughs are milked from whether Dai Li, the formidable head of the Chinese secret police, is dead.

The villagers’ tearful temporary return to China 40 years later, filled with heart-wrenching reunions, broke hearts in the audience.

Especially skilful – and what saves the play from being a soap opera – is the element of the unexpected.

Within the same scene, an innocuously jokey situation can turn ugly, like a sly twist of the knife you never knew was there. (Without giving too much away, let’s just say watch out for the scene about making a $10 coffin.)

Of course, credit for the success of this play must also be given to an excellent cast, defined particularly by the actors who play the first-generation immigrants.
Crosstalk actor Feng Yi-gang stands out for his performance of the slightly gormless but loyal Xiao Zhu with the Shangdong accent.

Playing Zhu’s wife, veteran singer Wan Fang is outstanding as practical Taiwanese woman who marries into the village.

The other impressive performances are sung Shao-ching as Zhou Nigh, a helpful, smart-alecky pilot who quits flying; TV host Chu Chung-heng’s heartfelt portrayal of Lao Zhao, the cheerful, happy-go-lucky husband to the hysterical complaint queen played with gusto by Ann Lang.

On a simple but evocative set, consisting of skeletal house with no walls, the actors capture so well the spirit of these village communities that, unself-consciously, they also tap into a larger story of human struggle and survival.

When the play ened, I realised I had scribbled very few notes.

I had been so caught up in the joys and trials of these families – sometimes so choked up with tears – that I had found no words were necessary to remember The Village by.

海峽時報THE STRAITS TIMES, 2009年2月9日
Adelina Chia 新加坡報導





在夜裡,士兵們藉著天上的星斗來判斷遠在中國的家鄉的方位,並期盼著將來返鄉的日子。但是,這樣的日子卻是遙遙無期。 從開始的別無選擇,到後來他們漸漸愛上這個慢慢變成家的《寶島一村》,然而,卻也成為他們兒女們迫不及待希望離開的家。





從高等喜劇到高等悲劇,戲中的情感總是誠懇,從不虛假。 男人們圍坐著辯論政治的片段非常精彩,劇中人八卦著中國秘密警察戴笠的生死之謎,引來不少觀眾笑聲。而四十年後眷村人返鄉探親的場景更是充滿淚水的感傷,也深深感動現場的觀眾。尤其精彩的—也是讓整齣戲不流於連續劇俗套的—是導演高度的運用不可預知因素的技巧。


當然,這齣戲的成功一半也要歸功於優秀的演員陣容,尤其是飾演眷村第一代的演員們。相聲演員馮翊綱因飾演傻氣卻忠誠,並帶有山東口音的小朱而表現突出。 資深歌手萬芳飾演小朱的老婆,她完美詮釋一個嫁到眷村的台灣女人。另一位表現讓人印象深刻的就是宋少卿,他飾演的周寧是一個熱心卻自以為聰明的退役飛行官。電視主持人屈中恆用忠良來詮釋老趙,而郎祖荺則飾演她太太,一個快樂無憂無慮的丈夫和一個歇斯底里愛抱怨的妻子。