The Arrest Of Ai Weiwei
Posted 21 April 2013 - 01:52 PM
I always enjoy going to see a new work by Howard Brenton. The play is fascinating, a kind of nightmarishly surreal mix of Martin McDonagh's 'The Pillowman' and Franz Kafka's 'The Trial'. The whole cast is very impressive but particular praise must be given to Benedict Wong, who as Ai WeiWei not only bears a striking physical resemblance to the man but also brilliantly and movingly conveys his sense of frustration and bewilderment.
The set is also very good. They've completely stripped everything away leaving a mostly bare space. We get to see the dock doors open and close and most of the action takes place inside a large rotating box (not too dissimilar to the one seen in 'Reasons To Be Pretty' for anyone who saw that). A group of extras help with scene changes and interact with the "art installation" at various times.
Not many people in the audience, the dress circle where I was sitting was virtually empty which is a shame because this is a thought-provoking play and well written play. See it if you can!
Posted 21 April 2013 - 03:33 PM
Wasn't really planning on seeing it, guess the subject matter put me off a bit and I hadn't really noticed it was Brenton whose work I have enjoyed previously.
Give it a go if you are pondering it!
Posted 21 April 2013 - 04:00 PM
Posted 21 April 2013 - 09:06 PM
Posted 21 April 2013 - 09:33 PM
Posted 21 April 2013 - 09:57 PM
Posted 27 April 2013 - 10:34 PM
Great production - a piece of art in itself - and the play has some brilliant scenes and touches, but a bit on the light side. Act 1 only 49 mins. Wanted more of it. More background.
And I must re-read his final speech. Why does he break the priceless 4000 yr old Han dynasty vase? I admired Wei Wei hugely throughout the play, and then when he dropped this vase for little reason, my admiration for him dropped too.....
China doesn't come out of it well at all. A touch unfair IMO, though of course this play is very much from the mouth of Ai Wei Wei. Who am I to judge after all that he's been through? But with regards to China's control and lack of freedom/expression, I do think things are changing slowly. I was in Beijing last week, staying with Chinese folk, and speaking to them, I got the impression it's more liberal than we give it credit for or like to think it is. Though that is not saying the Chinese gov't is perfect. Far far from it.
Posted 28 April 2013 - 09:29 AM
Several Chinese students, studying in London, were there yesterday. Had an interesting conversation with a pair on the tube afterwards. Good to see it's attracting a different audience.
And many thanks to Latecomer for her recommendation of Belsize Kitchen in another thread. Went there for lunch- delicious pea, feta and pomegranate salad, and a really good sticky toffee pudding with lots of dates in. Just how I like it. And v good value too. Get there early though. It was packed at 12.15.
Posted 28 April 2013 - 10:17 AM
Ai Wei Wei knowingly chooses his provocations of the Government and culture of the People's Republic, and his resultant arrest and general treatment could be no surprise to him. In a sense, his predicament is one of his own artworks.
It irritates me when Westerners denounce foreign "human rights abuses" when many were part of the UK Government and legal systems just a few decades ago.
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