Yang Sing restaurant, Manchester- until Saturday 16th March
Reviewed by Joseph Everton
From Shore to Shore combined music, theatre, a two course Chinese meal and delivered an entertaining evening which was different to any that I have experienced before. Set in Manchester’s Yang Sing restaurant, the performance told the stories of three children, battling their way into adulthood through trials and tribulations, ending up finding home and happiness in England, Leeds to be exact, but not without suffering from racism, a language barrier and a host of family issues.
Cheung Wing, played by Ozzie Yue and Matt Lim, estranged from his beloved mother, bought and worked until rescued by his uncle, told a heartbreaking tale of an old man recalling his escape from war. The story of his humble beginning was touching as he explained that because he knew what it was like to be starving, he knew what it meant to be fed. Yi Di (Luna Di), on the other hand, did not long for the return of a parent, but for their approval, with the weight of her father’s expectations laying heavily on her shoulders. The stories of these two characters and their families were carefully interwoven with that of Mei Lan who grew up working in the family takeaway in Leeds, listening from the basement as her mother was beaten by an abusive father and husband. At the end of the play, Ozzie Yue’s Cheung Wing tied all of the loose ends of a complex tale together, explaining an intriguing and satisfying link between the three main characters.
Mary Cooper and MW Sun’s work, which danced between English, Cantonese and Mandarin, managed to successfully tell three distinct stories with only subtle changes in the set and lighting. Restricted by the choice of venue and limited staging, it might have been challenging to follow, but by virtue of being well acted, directed and laced with song, the performers were able to keep the audience engaged.
Although I exited the venue feeling unsure about my first experience of steamed Cantonese style omelette, I am sure that From Shore to Shore will have left a lasting impression on me, a greater appreciation of the stories of Chinese immigrants to Britain and the challenges they may have faced in China and on arriving in a new home. From Shore to Shore was a well told and entertaining story that is not told enough.