Review- General Hua Mulan- AFTEC


By: Justine Denning


In Search of Justice and Righteousness is the gloriously bold sub-heading for General Hua Mulan. This production supports this statement with a powerhouse performance from The Absolutely Fabulous Theatre Connection and the students of Bravo! 


What a gloriously bold sixty minutes it was.


From the calm countryside by the stream I was transported to the raging battlefield. Emotions were stirred as the destruction of war tore families apart. Anger beat in my chest as warlords screamed for an attack on the innocent. 


This is not the Disney version. 


I must admit that I was unknowledgeable about the true legend behind that of General Hua Mulan, the brave daughter of an aged solider who has been summoned to battle. With love for her country and her family she illegally takes her father's place. She is a classic heroine of Chinese literature, defeating the enemy and saving her country. But does she receive justice? As the story goes, once she revealed her identity to the Emperor in order to join the army once more, she was punished. Like I mentioned earlier, this is not the Disney version.


Physicality is the word to describe the heart of this performance. The actors on stage were undeniably versatile;  it was scary to believe that they were only in the age category of 13-18 years old (and I guarantee you would believe that this was a professional performance, not one with actors who have fractions homework waiting at home). Their characterizations of roles were precise without becoming stereotypical characterizations. For a character (such as Mulan) who is undeniably patriotic about her country and serving her family, it can be potentially a little bit eye-roll inducing but, due to the casting of our central character, I am happy to report my eyeballs remained firmly in place. 


The young actress Wong Siu Yin played Mulan pretty convincingly as I forgot after the first ten minutes that her petite frame and graceful features would fail to convince anybody that she belonged with the fellows in training camp.  When she was unleashed to battle, armed with her sense of justice, she was not overshadowed by any actor in a stage fight.


What is really a triumph for the show is the wonderful sequences, transitions between scenes and the use of limited but effective musicality. Young director Ata Wong should be incredibly proud of himself.  Rarely have I been that intrigued by a show's use of its entire cast who remain on stage throughout the production. The actors are the river that flows, the bridge we must cross to the battleground and, in one of the finest scenes of General Hua Mulan, they even became the battle horses in the stables. Mulan finds herself picking her steed (in a really quite funny exchange with the owner) and her fellow actor clip clopped around the stage proudly before effortlessly supporting her onto his shoulders and cantering around the stage. Now if only we could all travel like that!


If I were to point out a minimal problem with this production, it is that occasionally the subtitles were just a little off, too fast or too slow and sporadically skipping a sentence all together.  This isn't the worst complaint in the world but it can be distracting from the performance on stage.


With that said. General Hua Mulan is without question a hit and my pick of the year. The show runs from December 4th to 6th and I sincerely hope it is packed every night. Their commitment and intense training is evident and a great audience is truly what these young actors deserve. 

General Hua Mulan is playing through December 6. For more information, click here.

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Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 5.0


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