This Is Not A Show About Hong Kong is a real lesson in how to frame a piece of work, how to create an immediate context and mood that colours the rest of the show. Lights go dark, and a piercingly loud voiceover tells us not to eat, to switch off our phones, to behave. What begins as a list of house rules suddenly becomes more uncomfortable, authoritarian, and it’s that feeling you are left to sit with.
It's not a performance that’s necessarily easy to interpret either. In fact, it feels like it resists that. A beautiful opening section of shadow puppetry alludes to this, making brilliant use of scale and light to show how oppressed the people of Hong Kong are being under the National Security Bill — which, under its rules, would see these theatre-makers liable to prison sentences were they to perform the show in Hong Kong.
That said, meaning is always pushing at the margins of the sketches, dances, and clowning we are thrown between, and when something raw emerges it feels like a wound has been exposed. One particular moment involving a jar of marmite exemplifies this brilliantly, a short piece of clowning that starts off as flirtatious, but slowly descends into something quite dark.
As an audience member you have to give all of yourself to this piece. It’s not easy, and nor should it be. It can be challenging, but it’s never so oblique that you lose the thread of what’s going on. This is a very well crafted, intentioned piece of work.