THE EXCEPTIONAL DUET: THE VOID 跳格黑盒:《言說之外》| Hong Kong, HKRep Black Box

This sombre and inscrutable eighty-minute two-hander takes place in a large glass box, which the audience views seated in the round. Filled with a bath tub, large industrial metal sink, fridge, and piano, we could almost be looking at an apartment.

Water from the bath quickly mists up the glass box windows, and much of the action takes place in the dark, or with the actors obscured from vision on the floor: so despite the voyeuristic trappings, we cannot necessarily be voyeurs.

Written by, directed by, and starring Chester Wong, there are some arresting images: the woman (Man Man Kwok) begins by cutting an apple; by the end, the man (Chester Wong) is out of the bath, wearing a suit, and peeling a new apple. Much of the play is silent, with a large section dedicated to developing a photo, set to the ticking of a metronome. The play’s Cantonese-language (no subtitles) dialogue is slow, fragmented, and repetitive: despite the switching roles, we get the impression of a relationship that is completely broken down.

The play promises “Heaps of music scores / Punctuated by keyboards […] For me, they are theme and variations / But you say, a lullaby”. However, the live piano on stage is only played twice: first a brief Bach piece, and second two-handed scales. The piano is tuned on stage, but to no purpose. There is no music, no theme, and no variation. There is no applause.

Playing 13 – 21 November 2020 at the Black Box Theatre in Sheung Wan.

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