Moscow Express | Stand on the shoulders of Chekhov, peering at human foibles through sliding doors
Stand on the shoulders of Chekhov
Peering at human foibles through sliding doors
【HKRep】Life is filled with absurdities, but living in their midst we may not see them. What if we stand on the shoulders of Russian literary giant Anton Chekhov, using his perspective to examine the world’s idiosyncrasies through black humour? Moscow Express is adapted from Chekhov’s masterful stories: Tour guide Ma Tai Sing and actress Chan Siu Yin travel through time and space, finding themselves on a through train to 19th-century Russia, developing empathy and resonance with past people and events. Chekhov expertly captured the world and humanity through everyday life, injecting nuanced social observations aiming straight at our hearts. HKRep Artistic Director Poon Wai Sum joins forces with five-time Hong Kong Drama Award Best Director Lee Chun Chow in crafting a surrealistic drama, taking the audience by the hand into the Russian countryside as they come face to face with its people in portraits so real that they cross into the surreal. Moscow Express, adapted from Chekhov’s novels and written by HKRep Artistic Director Poon Wai Sum, with Lee Chun Chow as Director, featuring Wong Hiu Yee, Chris Sun, Kong Ho Yin, Ng Ka Leung, Yu Hon Ting, Ko Hon Man, Karrie Tan, Kalok Chan, Chan Kiu, Eva Mak, Mercy Wong, Poon Tai Ming and Trickle Choi in the cast. This production runs from 5th to 19th November at the Hong Kong City Hall Theatre. Tickets are now available at URBTIX outlets.
Moscow Express: A volume of Chekhov short stories magically puts tour guide Ma Tai Sing and actress Chan Siu Yin en route to Moscow on a through train. In an instant, they travel from Admiralty to Russia at the end of the 19th century! As they frantically try to make their way back, Russian characters enter the compartment at every stop…and absurd scenes surround them…Can our two 21st-century voyagers return home?
Playwright and Director Poon Wai Sum shares his thoughts: “I really admire Chekhov’s narrative aesthetics. In my opinion, his novellas and plays alike present us with ‘phenomena’ that only inform us of what has happened without context so readers and theatregoers must surmise on their own. Therefore, using Chekhov’s stories as the basis for a play allows ample ‘room’ for creativity. These stories are so insightful and sensitive in observing life, their characters so real that they cross time and space to live in our world today. Chekhov wields his pen with penetrating power, transforming life’s joy and pain and absurdities into poetry that moves us to laughter and tears. We are fortunate to engage director Lee Chun Chow, a theatre artist I have long admired. I look forward to bringing to the audience a ‘Moscow Phenomenon’ that seems far but yet so near, to share Chekhov’s deep wisdoms and down-to-earth philosophies of life.”
Director Lee Chun Chow states, “I hope to use the vitality and aesthetics of contemporary theatre to portray 19th-century Russia. Chekhov’s oeuvre reflects his society, yet possesses a universality that inspires every reader. We have delved deeply in the text, putting our efforts to make it come alive on stage. The script contains a total of 11 stories: some are lighthearted, others serious, and many imbued with black humour. This is an interesting challenge for a director: I hope to create scenes with different rhythms and performance styles. Between the scenes, we have two young Hongkongers commuting on an MTR train, thus constructing a narrative through-line. We hope to establish stronger connections with the audience, bringing unexpected resonance to all.”
About Playwright and Director Poon Wai Sum
About Director Lee Chun Chow
Lee Chun Chow completed a postgraduate diploma course on East/West Theatre Studies at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Professional and Continuing Education. As a five-time Best Director at the Hong Kong Drama Awards, he was formerly an actor and assistant artistic director at the Chung Ying Theatre Company, where his performances in The Old Master Q, The Legend of Zhong Kui and The Merchant of China won him three Hong Kong Drama Awards as Best Leading Actor. For his performance in The Alchemist, Lee received the accolade of Best Supporting Actor at the Hong Kong Drama Awards. He was also an Outstanding Leading Actor for the title role in Ho Chi Minh On Trial and Best Director for Floating at the Hong Kong Theatre Libre.
About Moscow Express