It has been a while since we have been to the Arcola and certainly not since we restarted the Ginger Wig. We normally have a lovely time due to the thought-provoking theatre they put on. This sadly was not the case with The Sugar-Coated Bullets of the Bourgeoisie…
Set in rural China, this play followed the tale of peasants in Chairman Mao’s new China, starting in 1949 and how they experienced the land reforms and how that affected their place in society particular in response to their landowner.
From the start it was clear that the play was about a piece of history built round the story of a few peasants. The time range was marked by years on the wall that were pulled off to show the progress through time. However in being so emphatic on the politics of the situation the playwright seemed to forget the most important function of a play – telling a story. As a result the dialogue was slabby, unimaginative and at points devoid of any originality.
The set, although initially appearing impressive, turned out to be rather problematic for the staging of the piece, with scenes happening all over the space, behind audiences and behind pillars. As for the acting, there was a big range of talent that meant we were left with a group of actors who didn’t seem to gel properly and struggled to convey their characters.
This was therefore the first time as the Ginger Wig that we have left a show at the interval. Maybe then our observations only apply to the first half of the play and perhaps the second half was a blinder. Leaving a show early is not something we normally do and certainly not something we would consider doing had we been invited to the show. However, when we have spent our own cold hard cash to see something, then we reserve the right to leave early if we desire.
From our experience, this was a very untypical night of theatre at the Arcola.
Highlight of the show …