Review- On the Way to the Front- Le French May


By: Theo Blake


On the Way to the Front brings together artists from Asian People’s Theatre Festival Society and Théâtre de l’Ordinaire in a theatre performance that combines mask work, live music, movement, juggling and stories from the East and West. It reveals the tragic moments that made up the grand history between the Chinese and French last century.


The production re-creates the life and times of the Chinese Labour Corps when 140,000 workers were recruited by the French and British Armies to the Western Front of First World War who worked under extreme conditions. At the embarrassing situation of meeting of cultures, what happened to the Chinese workers, who had never travelled, when they arrived at the countryside of France, with radical cultural differences between them and the locals?


Creating a fantastic and non-realistic universe, this highly musical and visual show is bringing you to a world of poetry and humor, exploring the hope of a world of solidarity. Fine performances from the ensemble helped blend four languages into one show with ease. (French, Mandarin, English and Cantonese.) A combination of both French and Hong Kong performers helped bring the show into a unified ensemble that was a truly unique experience. The physical theatre and mime work was strong and visuals for this production are beautiful. I highly recommend it to students and people wanting to study the history of WW1 through the eyes of immigrants. The story is tragic, the acting is strong and the show is one of the best I've seen in Hong Kong.


Yes, there are things that could have been improved... but these are tiny details like the music being too loud in moments and the lights appearing a little too dimly for my liking in certain dramatic sections. I like to be able to see the actors faces/masks clearly and at times the lighting went too theatrical. But these little technical quirks were not enough to deter my enjoyment of this show and I deeply appreciated this production for its innovation and heart.


Ko Shan Theatre is a bit of a journey from Hung Hom station but well worth the trip. Escape the usual bubble of Hong Kong Island and see this show. I can't say enough nice things about this production. I absolutely loved it and know that others will too.


On the Way to the Front is playing through June 21. For more information, click here.

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    07 July 2015


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