Jump to content


The Arrest Of Ai Weiwei


  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 coramboy

coramboy

    Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 21 April 2013 - 01:52 PM

I went to see this yesterday afternoon after having booked last week following a casual visit to the Hampstead Theatre website to see what was on. I was intrigued by his arrest when it happened 2 years ago and wondered if it was actually his new work of art.

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!

#2 dude-1981

dude-1981

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 655 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Richmond

Posted 21 April 2013 - 03:33 PM

Yep, I'd echo all of that and I'd say it is one of the best things I've seen old year.

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!
If, for some strange reason you care what I've seen, it's all here:

http://pcchan1981.livejournal.com/

#3 xanderl

xanderl

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2077 posts

Posted 21 April 2013 - 04:00 PM

I concur, had my doubts about seeing it too but it's gripping, disturbing and in places surprisingly funny.
"witty ... both made me laugh but also gave me pause" - Mark Shenton, The Stage

#4 peggs

peggs

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 494 posts

Posted 21 April 2013 - 09:06 PM

This wasn't something that jumped out at me when it was announced knowing about it but saw it on live streaming on friday and thought it was really good and sent me off to research more about what happened which can't be a bad thing.

#5 paplazaroo

paplazaroo

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 348 posts

Posted 21 April 2013 - 09:33 PM

looks really good. May be a stupid point to make but looking at the photos it appears that Wong has really chubbed up for the part. I haven't read anything about that, normally when an actor changes their body shape for a part the press are all over it.

#6 coramboy

coramboy

    Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 21 April 2013 - 09:57 PM

Yes, I saw him chatting to friends in the foyer afterwards and he didn't look (as far as I could tell) any slimmer to how he looked on stage so I guess he has put on a bit of weight.

#7 Alexandra

Alexandra

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1779 posts

Posted 21 April 2013 - 10:10 PM

Yes, excellent. Wong is outstanding.

#8 Pharaoh's number 2

Pharaoh's number 2

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3749 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:London

Posted 27 April 2013 - 10:34 PM

Very good. Benedict Wong is forever forgiven for his Laertes. He's superb in this.

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.



#9 Pharaoh's number 2

Pharaoh's number 2

    Advanced Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3749 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:London

Posted 28 April 2013 - 09:29 AM

Answered my own question. He dropping the vase is reference to one of his arts works, a series of photos showing him dropping an ancient Han Dynasty vase. I'm all for modern art, but destroying a historical relic is a bit much, I think.

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.



#10 Honoured Guest

Honoured Guest

    Dis Member

  • Full Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2522 posts
  • Gender:Not Telling

Posted 28 April 2013 - 10:17 AM

View PostPharaoh, on 27 April 2013 - 10:34 PM, said:

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.

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.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users