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January 15, 2010

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Plays about love, money and marriage

IT is said that the human soul weighs 21 grams, but amateur model Liu Jiayin weighs her soul in carats - 21.

Liu plays the lead in director He Nian's new play "21 Carats," which will premiere at the Shanghai Theater Academy next week.

Written by renowned playwright Ning Caishen, it is about a city girl's choice of love: Will she choose her soulmate, a hardworking ordinary white-collar office worker, or the rich entrepreneur who proposes to her with a huge diamond ring?

Like many of the city's post-1980s generation (people born after 1980), Liu lives like there is no tomorrow. She splurges on luxurious fashion couture, dines at fancy restaurants and invests in stock until one day she finds that she has lost almost all her money in the stock market.

To make ends meet, she has to rent out half of her apartment to Wang Jiwei, an ordinary office worker who happens to be very good at saving money.

Living under the same roof, the two very different people fight all the time at first. However, as time goes by, they gradually accept and fall in love with each other - Liu is no longer an expensive princess while Wang learns to enjoy the finer things that life offers - until one day there's an accident.

Director He is nicknamed "box-office honey" by local theatergoers and critics for his creative, sold-out productions over the years. He is very confident about the upcoming play in which he has put "a lot of innovative elements."

For example, the actors will turn into branded handbags in one scene and luxurious furniture in another, when they dance with each other. There will be a rolling stage that will turn into dining table, dancing area and "a big surprise" at the end. He promises that all the women in the audience will be excited - a helicopter flies in.

Another light comedy, "Age to Be Married," discusses a burning topic for the post-1980s generation nowadays - when to get married and why.

"Through the play, I want to reflect young people's thoughts on marriage," says director Yu Li.

"Some long to get married but they can't because they are 'poor' - they cannot afford either a house or a car. Others who do own houses and cars are scared of marriage. The more they are pressured by their parents, the more resistant they become to the idea of wedlock," Yu says.

She hopes young people watching the play will reflect on the whys and whens of married bliss.

Meanwhile, Shanghai Wuxianmai Studio will present the Chinese version of "Boeing Boeing," a comedy that won a 2008 Tony Award for "Best Revival of a Play."

Bernard, a successful architect living in Paris, thinks he can easily deal with his three flight attendant fiancees. It's all a question of timing and a little help from his trusted housekeeper who reluctantly plays romantic air traffic controller. However, when an old friend arrives and his three fiancees each change their flight schedules, his life encounters turbulence.

Director Shen Xufei describes the play as the stage version of "Sex and the City." "Each of the three flight attendants represents a distinctive character, while the leading character, Bernard, turns from 'Mr Big' to 'Mr Busy'," he says.

"Age to Be Married"

Date: January 18-February 6, 7:15pm

Venue: Duanjun Theater, Shanghai Theater Academy, 630 Huashan Rd

Tickets: 150-200 yuan

Tel: 6248-5600

"Boeing Boeing"

Date: January 20-24, 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Drama Arts Theater, 288 Anfu Rd

Tickets: 100-250 yuan

Tel: 6473-0123

"21 Carats"

Date: January 21-February 7 (closed on Mondays), 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Theater Academy, 630 Huashan Rd

Tickets: 100-380 yuan

Tel: 400-880-1055


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