The lengthy parable is played on a simple set – mainly a versatile hinged screen on castors which by turns becomes the street or the inside or outside of the tobacconist or factory.
The 19-person cast populates the streets of Szechwan as Shen Te the prostitute struggles to capitalise on the gift the gods have given her as the only good person in the city.
Her ‘goodness’ is tried sorely by the rank and file of the neighbourhood who abuse her generosity and even her love interest Yang Sun (Rob Currall) is exploiting her for what he can get. The only other generosity in the city is shown by the barber who will help her help others if she will marry him but who can be violent and cares nothing for those less fortunate than himself and the elderly couple who lend her their life savings to pay the rent but pay their own price for doing so.
To preserve her interests, she invents an alter ego Shui Ta who can be harsh, dogmatic and outright manipulative but protects her business for the future.
Pauline E Miller sustains interest as Shen Te/Shui Ta but the play is really overly long and unsatisfactory. The cast manfully try to bring interest to the play with Pauline Miller exuberant as Wang the water seller, and some nicely observed characters particularly by Eileen Taylor, Sarah Newcombe, Nic Burge and Marion MacBeth.
Jackal Orlando Rosewarne-Hebb as the Strolling Musician provides background atmosphere with his excellent banjo-playing.