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Ghost Girl // Gwei Mui

“Energetic and humourous”

Jennifer Tang’s Ghost Girl // Gwei Mui feels like a mood board rather than a finished play. There are a lot of interesting ideas at play here, but at just over an hour long, it feels incomplete.

Siu-See Hung plays the “ghost girl” Kim, born in the UK to Mei (Paula So Man Siu) from Hong Kong and sort-of adopted by a white British couple while Mei retains an uneasy, unofficial custody.

Kim does not speak Cantonese, does not want to think of Mei as her mother, and struggles to negotiate her identity in a predominantly white world that ‘others’ her even as she strives to fit in.

Visually and aurally Ghost Girl // Gwei Mui is a collage. Between scenes, images are projected onto white sheets. These form part of skits inspired by verbatim testimonies. The four central characters, and other peripheral figures played by the cast, frequently shout their lines over one another. Any nuance is overwhelmed by a general sense of emotive display.

The play aches to be expanded. So Man Siu’s Mei is a fragile, fierce and deeply sympathetic character; she cries out for a better-developed narrative. Hung’s drama queen Kim is coruscating, but her emotional arc feels simplified.

Though the play cleverly acknowledges that identity isn’t neat and is always in flux dependent on context, it also doesn’t dive deep enough into its own storyline. Tang has created something sweet, funny and moving, but it’s a sketch, lacking more complex gradations of character and plot.

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Production Details
Production nameGhost Girl // Gwei Mui
VenueCamden People’s Theatre
StartsJanuary 22, 2019
EndsFebruary 9, 2019
Running time1hr
AuthorJennifer Tang
DirectorJennifer Tang
Set designerHannah Sibai
Lighting designerZia Bergin-Holly
Sound designerKeir Vine
CastBea Holland, Danielle Phillips, Paula So Man Siu, Siu-See Hung
Production managerMarco Savo
ProducerChinese Arts Now Festival, Jasmine Cullingford
VerdictAn energetic and humorous play about identity that still feels like an early draft
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