Star-crossed lovers meet again in Chang's `8 Springs'

By Diana Freundl  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Fri, Jun 04, 2004 - Page 18

A prominent female writer of 20th-century Chinese literature, Eileen Chang's (張愛玲) novels have endured the test of time.

Depicting the romantic life of women in 1930s Shanghai, 8 Springs brings to the stage Chang's novel of star-crossed love in a musical drama beginning next week in Taipei. Hong Kong director Edward Lam's (林奕華) adaptation is a multimedia work with a list of bankable film actors.

"There are various ways to interpret the text, but in this case the stage may be more favorable to the story," Lam said in a telephone interview from Hong Kong. By using modern clothing and set design Lam blurs the specific time period of the story, "Making it more accessible to younger generations."

The story is presented in a dream-like sequence that spans 20 years. In a style reminiscent of Peter Greenaway's film The Pillow Book, Lam emphasizes the importance of written additions to spoken language in his reworking of the novel.

Four original songs composed specifically for the production reflect the characters altering moods as well as the changing seasons in a year, and are performed by the story's heroine Gu Manzhen, played by Taiwan celebrity Rene Liu (劉若英).

The drama recounts the romance of two pairs of lovers who, after being separated for 18 years, reunite in an attempt to retrieve lost time and love.

Co-produced by Hong Kong-based Zuni Icosahedron theater company and the National Theatre Company of China, 8 Springs runs from Wednesday to June 13 at the National Chiang Kai-shek Theater (國家戲劇院), 21-1, 100 Zhongshan S. Rd, Taipei. (台北市100中山南路21-1號). Tickets range in price from NT$500 to NT$1,800 and are available at the CKS Box Office.