This Is Not A Show About Hong Kong at Underbelly Cowgate – Edinburgh Fringe review
The award-winning play confronts the realities currently faced by a community
Given it is boldly titled This Is Not A Show About Hong Kong, it's probably not hard to guess what Max Percy + Friends' new Untapped award-winning piece is about.
An at-times gripping, abstract reflection on a nation where all assumptions and expectations are upended, it bristles with the unquenchable fervour of those who have had their lives and heritage eroded by a state where censorship is part of everyday life (the company have had to anonymise their identities due to the risks involved in the production).
The cast of four essentially presents a mosaic of mishap, melancholy and mayhem. A dinner table scene sees three hungry fellows fight over a grenade. An imminent child is named, but turns out to be a jumble of torn paper stuffed into a shirt. The paper is hastily collected back up and secreted once more under the clothes. Death, life, and birth are all desperately warped.
The British complicity in the history of Hong Kong is brought into startling clarity – one of the more successful elements of the show sees a performer forced to guzzle down marmite, feigning a smile as she does so. You either love it or hate it – or hate how much you are forced to pretend you love it.
There is a fine line between the didactic and the artistic, and it's not one that the Max Percy and the company tread too well. Given the petrifying, shocking subject matter, the production feels like a scattershot reflection of a pertinent and pressing issue rather than a cohesive, lingering experience. The bitty-ness is instead like a pebble skimming across choppy waters – quickly alighting while never plunging into the necessary depths.