Yellow Earth, Behind the Chinese Takeaway

Review in Issue 9-4 | Winter 1997

I had heard a lot about Yellow Earth. The subject matter of Behind the Chinese Takeaway is a fascinating one and David Tse’s claim that the company create a new theatrical style obviously arouses curiosity. I really wanted this show to be good.

The company present a medley of characters from London’s vibrant and diverse Chinese community. There is a young girl whose parents have become slaves to their Chinese takeaway, there is a teenager who hopes of another union between China and the UK and there is an entire dance class. Amongst these are snapshots from life in old China and a collection of jokes which are often made about Chinese people resident in this country. Pots and pans are banged whilst the text is recited, oh and there is also some Tai Chi performed with sparklers.

All these sequences are thick with irony about the Chinese experience and are presented almost as a lecture demonstration with what seemed like hours of video footage of Hong Kong’s hand-over ceremony this summer (the actors just sat and watched). In one scene a teenage boy (excellently played by Tom Wu) and girl are chatting after having sex. She makes patronising comments about his ‘lovely (oriental) skin’, ‘lovely (oriental) eyes’ and so on, and is surprised that he even speaks English. These encounters raise interesting questions about the future of multi-cultural Britain, but sadly overall the show was under-rehearsed and lacking in theatrical energy.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue

This article in the magazine

Issue 9-4
p. 22