NO FOREIGNERS

Hong Kong Exile & fu-GEN Theatre, VanCity Culture Lab, until February 17th

My Two Cents

My Two Pence

By Josephine Lancaster

 

An intriguing set up, “No Foreigners” uses figurine puppets, live camera work, projections and mic’d actors to muse on the question: In Canada, what makes a person Chinese?

 

A mélange of projected and spoken text, English, Cantonese, music and tableau; filled with several humorous, curious and creative moments, “No Foreigners” fails to have a thorough driving force. While hanging references on a true and very cute narrative structure of family, duty and discovery, the pace is often sluggish, very much hindered rather than propelled by the use of technology. This makes a running time of 75 minutes straight through, somewhat of a boring and sleepy ask at times.

 

The “voice overs” of our actors and visual manipulators/puppeteers, April Leung and Derek Chan, are delightful and contemplative. In an almost computer game, level advancement, from scene to scene structure, it is they who ground any reality and character. I may not understand what’s going on but I can follow this scenes journey of that female voice, for example. The show uses static projection of opposable figurines as our visual focus. This is immensely calming and allows for greater focus on any words, however, for a full show it’s a little slow. Milton Lim and Remy Su’s animations are endearingly subtle but again, sooth rather than stimulate.

 

Quirky is indeed a word that can be applied. Breaking the fourth wall for an audience interaction of karaoke, Chan offers a brief reprieve from the ‘you’ve levelled up’ shape of the play. Along with far more nuanced references that I couldn’t truly appreciate - those of Chinese descent and a greater awareness of the world we were in, laughed at numerous points, I did not.

 

“No Foreigners”, it has its charms, but a drop in, drop out approach might be more accessible.