Known for his playful experiments with theatrical forms and languages, theater director Wang Jia-ming (王嘉明) teams up with songstress Cheer Chen (陳綺貞) and composer and music producer Chen Chien-chi (陳建騏) for his latest work Once, Upon Hearing the Skin Tone (膚色的時光), a mystery thriller musical about love and the atrocities and madness it entails.
For Wang, a sense of violence and death belies the seemingly sweet surface of Cheer Chen’s music, a contrast that he uses to comment on lovers’ passions and desires.
Wang uses a stage divided in half by a wooden wall as a device that obscures the actors behind it. This enables the director to exaggerate the work’s suspense and mystery.
Audience members sat on either side of the wall can only gather clues as to what is happening on the other side.
“The idea of creating a dual stage is closely related to the voyeuristic and possessive nature of love. We want to be an omniscient seer and know everything about our lovers, but that’s not possible,” said Wang. The format greatly increases the logistic complexity of coordinating actors, live projections and music.
The play begins with an optometrist taking the audience back to a scene in which he is murdered. Twelve performers, including many seasoned stage actors such as Fa, Betsy Lan
(藍貝芝) and Mo Zi-yi (莫子儀), traverse the play’s 40 settings, which include a clinic, food stall, gym, bar and Egyptian hotel.
Pieces of the plot fall into place as each character reveals his or her secrets and thoughts through murmurs, monologues and song.
In the skilled hands of Chen Chien-chi, Cheer Chen’s songs have been adapted to various styles ranging from Broadway, Indian ballads to a cappella numbers.
WHAT: Once, Upon Hearing the Skin Tone (膚色的時光)
WHEN: From today through April 26 at 2:30pm on Saturdays and Sundays and 7:30pm from Tuesdays to Saturdays
WHERE: 6F Performance Hall, Eslite Xinyi Store (誠品信義店6F展演廳), 6F, 11 Songgao Rd, Taipei City (台北市松高路11號6樓)
ADMISSION: NT$600, available through NTCH ticketing or online at www.artsticket.com.tw
ON THE NET: www.wretch.cc/blog/eslitestage
For those interested in seeing both sides of the story, ticket-holders can obtain a 25-percent discount for a second viewing.