Review- Figaro- Aurora Theatre

  5-6-15

By: Joyce Wong

 

Opening with a sultry Argentine Tango by Sirio Dance Studio that leads into an hour and a half of humour, social commentary and vivid characters, Aurora Theatre’s production of Figaro directed by Nicole Garbellini and Vanessa Noble didn't have a dull moment onstage or off. (The fun spills over into the intermission!).

 

Peter Gordon’s wonderful modern Hong Kong adaptation of Le Barbier de Séville by Pierre de Beaumarchais (1775) kept the audience laughing through the night and attests to the versatility and enduring entertainment of the centuries-old comedy. 

 

The original Spanish backdrop is now Sai Ying Pun. We find Count Almaviva reinterpreted as the fictional French President Boncoeur (N’kil Inaya Mordis) who has come to Hong Kong incognito in search of a rich Chinese wife to solve his country’s financial crisis. Boncoeur sets his eyes on Rosy Ma (Harmony Timbre), an exchange student from Mainland China, who he mistakes as the daughter of e-commerce mogul Jack Ma. Standing in Boncoeur’s way to Rosy is her academic advisor, Dr. Moodi (Vimal Vaz), who keeps Rosy at close watch under his roof and has ideas of marrying her himself. To hitch up the lovebirds, enter Figaro (Alexander James), Boncoeur’s old-time university pal and now Rosy’s bodyguard. Figaro devises different ways for Boncoeur and Rosy to meet. Disguises, hidden intentions and chance misunderstandings then ensue in a hilarious comedy about true love over money. 

 

The adaptation puts a nice spin on the Beaumarchais story. In the original, the Count courts Rosine in disguise to make sure she loves him for his person and not his money. In Figaro, roles are somewhat reversed as Boncoeur goes incognito to convince Rosy that he loves her for her person and not her money despite his opposite intentions. Boncoeur does fall in love with Rosy genuinely but when his original intentions are found out, he flusters to explain that he had taken a tip from Beaumarchais’ Le Barbier de Séville.

 

This sort of reflexive meta-reference to the original play provided several points of comedy throughout. The self-awareness of the cast that they are characters in a play also served up jokes in the spirit of commedia dell’arte. However, at times it also felt slightly awkward, especially during the offstage skit with Suen Chi Hung’s character, who fights for more stage time fully aware that he is playing multiple roles in the small cast. That being said, it was no less funny and it didn't interfere much with the overall flow of the performance. 

 

Every character had very funny and satirical lines, which I won’t spoil here, realised by great acting. Mordis’s Boncoeur was a wonderful French caricature poking fun at Europe’s dismal financial outlook and the president’s private life. His suave charms made for hilarious scenes of courting that sent Rosy swooning and the audience laughing. James portrayed a resourceful Figaro who enlightens Boncoeur to the ways of Hong Kong, giving funny commentary on expats and administrative regulations. Timbre played Rosy with the right amount of girly giddiness and youthful indignation, drawing attention to the Umbrella Movement and Hong Kong’s social-political situation. Vaz’s moody Dr. Moodi was the perfect antagonist for a lighthearted comedy and at times you will find yourself sympathising with the old professor who is mandated to retire by law and rejected by the youngsters in the play. Suen’s multiple roles gave laughs throughout, with his disorganised subtitles and his eccentric marriage officer at the end. 

 

Figaro is a quality performance with some great scenes. I found the witty banter of Boncoeur and Figaro at the start and their scheming and re-scheming throughout particularly enjoyable. The scenes of physical comedy inside the Moodi flat are sure to fish laughs as well, especially a chaotic episode of overreaction against a character with H5N1. This is my first time watching an Aurora Theatre production and I’ll definitely be returning for more. Go into Figaro with an open mind and prepare to be entertained by a satirical comedy that makes us laugh at the characters and ourselves.

 

Figaro is playing through June 6th. For more information, click here.

 


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hongkong, theatre, review

Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 4.2


Comments

  • Jacques D.
    05 June 2015

    Last night we went to watch Figaro with a group of friends.
    I believe the beginning Dance was a very well executed Vals unusually danced on a very beautiful French Song.
    the Drama itself was funny and entertaining even if we didn't get all the jokes.
    The really pretty Can Can girls with their dance at the end really concluded the Night with joy and happiness.

    well done to the actors and being part of le french may, good choice to add 2 french songs and dancing to the drama to give a more strong french influence.

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