PPP Made in China

October 11, 2022 | By More

★★★☆☆   Heartfelt

Traverse: Tue 11 – Sat 15 Oct 2022
Review by Hugh Simpson

Made in China by Alice Clark, the latest Play, Pie and a Pint from Oran Mor at the Traverse, is a carefully written and excellently acted piece. Unfortunately it does not always satisfy as a drama.

In Wishaw, Janet (Jo Freer) is desperate to find the ‘fruit baubles’ her daughter simply must have for her 16th birthday party. Meanwhile, in a factory in China, Hui Ting (Amber Lin) is packing those decorations, working a 16-hour day, desperate to provide a better life for her own daughter.

Jo Freer and Amber Lin in Made in China Pic Tommy Ga-Ken Wan

There can be no doubt that Western consumers are addicted to buying unnecessary tat, or that those whose labour fulfils such cravings are treated abominably. Unfortunately, a play needs to do more than just address these facts to succeed artistically.

Made in China does not always do this. Despite some beautiful writing from Clark, the two strands of the story (presented side by side on Gemma Patchett and Jonny Scott’s artfully split set) never really mesh. Instead, what we get is two interlinked monologues.

Such is the lack of interaction between the two performers that this might as well be an audio drama. Director Philip Howard strives mightily to inject a visual element into proceedings, but this never truly convinces in what appears short (even by PPP’s admirably bite-size standards) and rather slight.

carefully drawn

Despite these drawbacks, there is a lot to admire. The two characters are carefully drawn, complex and ring true, even if the parallels between them are sometimes less than subtle.

Freer’s enviable dramatic and comic skills mean she is able to display complacency, frustration and incomprehension, often at the same time. Lin, meanwhile, contributes a beautifully judged portrayal of a character of considerable nuance.

And – while he never quite overcomes the static nature of the piece – Howard’s direction is full of heart. Which could certainly be said of the whole production, despite its flaws.

Running time 40 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge St, EH1 2ED
Tuesday 11 – Saturday 15 October 2022
Daily at 1.00 pm
Tickets and details: Book here.

ENDS

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