Wed, Dec 19, 2012 - Page 12 News List

Sound and fury in Nankang

A new show featuring grassroots Taiwanese culture has opened its doors as a permanent theater attraction, filling a neglected market niche

By Ian Bartholomew  /  Staff reporter

“Chinese tourists are familiar with this kind of format,” Dai said, referring to the vaudeville supper show of the Lao She Tea House (老舍茶館).

The Formosa Fantasy: The Amazing Night of Taiwan aims to provide something that is both easily accessible and memorable for visitors to Taiwan. Audiences are offered a personal tray with tea and preserved fruit when they are seated, and both are continually topped up by attentive staff. The show gets underway at 8:30pm, a later time slot than most theater performances in Taipei, which makes allowances for a proper pre-show dinner.

POP CULTURE

The local culture aspect of the production hits top gear almost immediately with loud electronic music that has now become an inseparable subculture of traditional temple events in the guise of the electric-techno neon gods (電音三太子). The show is introduced by an MC dressed in a neon god costume, the Taiwan-style diction, mixed in with copious quantities of Taiwanese phraseology, lending the show, to Chinese-speakers at least, a strongly local flavor. For others, English and Japanese introductions are provided on big screens to either side of the main stage.

Following the neon god come the eight generals, sumptuously attired, making use of traditional acrobatics enhanced with the use of bungee cords to provide a spectacular aerial element. Smoke machines, strobe lights and laser light all work overtime, and massive drums and gongs provide a wall of noise that summons up the atmosphere of a traditional religious event in full swing.

BETEL NUT BEAUTIES

The night market review tries hard to maintain the spectacle and the pace, but is largely forced to fall back of titillating dances by “betel nut beauties,” also lit up in neon, and some traditional acrobatics, and big dance numbers highlighting Taiwan’s individual take on dance club style.

Formosa Fantasy: The Amazing Night of Taiwan strives relentlessly to entertain, and given that the production was put together in just over a month, and the whole NK101 project has been in preparation for less than half a year, it has achieved a remarkable level of high-end gloss and efficiency. While it’s big, brash show may not be to everybody’s taste, it has managed to showcase some aspects of modern Taiwanese culture to which tourists have limited exposure.

Admission for Formosa Fantasy: The Amazing Night of Taiwan begins at 7:30pm; the show starts at 8:30pm and lasts for 90 minutes. Ticketing and other information can be found at: www.nk101.com.

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