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A Life on the Silk Road

“Some wonderful moments”

A really brief note on the free sheet for this physical show by National Theatre of China says it’s about the life of Zhang Qian, a famous explorer of the Han dynasty who was one of the first people to establish cultural and capital exchange with peoples as far as Afghanistan.

He travelled along what is now known as the Silk Road, and is seen as a heroic figure in Chinese history. But the show has no words, the scenes are quite abstract, and so that narrative remains unelucidated. It’s impossible to work out what is going on and why.

Not to worry. The piece itself is a beauty, and grows more so as it goes on. There are gorgeous scenes that symbolically recreate huge battles or Zhang Qian’s personal losses.

A stick adorned with red tassels symbolises his authority, a woman in khaki-ish clothes represents his beloved horse. Great beasts like the war-bringing Qiongqi come alive with masks and puppets.

Towards the end are some wonderful moments, especially when a snowstorm hits Zhang Qian and great gusts of confetti bury him on stage. Pan Yu’s live accompaniment on pipa and guzheng adds a haunting, atmospheric touch.

It would be worth brushing up on Zhang before seeing this, but on its own terms there’s still a lot to love.

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Production Details
Production nameA Life on the Silk Road
VenueZoo Southside
StartsAugust 3, 2018
EndsAugust 27, 2018
Running time1hr 20mins
AuthorWang Jing, Zhao Miao
ComposerUriel Barthelemi
DirectorZhao Miao
ChoreographerXu Yewen
Set designerEric Soyer
Costume designerLu Chunwei
Lighting designerWen Xiaonan
Sound designerZhao Mengru
Video designerMathieu Sanchez
CastDu Shuaiqiang, He Hongyu, Hua Chao, Liu Xihui, Pan Yu, Tian Ge, Wang Chenxu, Wang Yue, Wu Di, Wu Junda, Yu Hua, Zhang Shuochen, Zhao Zeyang
TechnicalLin Yanhua
Production managerGao Leilei
Stage managerXie Ke
ProducerNational Theatre of China
VerdictGorgeous physical piece from the National Theatre of China
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Tim Bano

Tim Bano

Tim Bano

Tim Bano

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