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August 15, 2009

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Home thoughts to make you cry

THERE were tears in the audience as a tragic tale of a couple's struggle to buy a house unfolded. The play asks people to consider what's really important in life, writes Michelle Zhang.

Dwelling Narrowness" is a play that makes you feel angry, depressed and sad the moment you leave the theater.

In two hours, the five actors shout, fight and cry from the very beginning till the end for property, money and love. As the play goes on, some audience members start to cry.

I was angry and frustrated, as I have never had this kind of reaction to watching a play. Maybe it's because I have heard and witnessed too many similar stories in real life: young couples in love are forced to be apart because they don't have money to buy a house, married ones fight all the time because they don't have enough money, young women leave their poor boyfriends for rich married men ...

And these are exactly what the play wants to show in two hours. Adapted from best-selling writer Liu Liu's popular novel of the same name, it depicts a family's sad struggle to buy a house of their own.

Guo Haiping lives in a small rented apartment with her husband, Su Chun, in Shanghai. They have to send their son away to live with Guo's mother in her hometown because there is not enough room for the three to live together.

In order to live with her son, Guo decides to buy a bigger house.

However, both she and her husband are ordinary workers who don't have enough money even for the down payment.

To please her, Su borrows money but fails to pay it back on time.

Desperate to help, Guo's younger sister, Haizao, breaks up with her beloved college boyfriend to start an affair with a rich married man who lends her the money.

When the man's wife finds things out, she beats Haizao so hard that she loses her baby and can't be pregnant again.

At the end of the play, nobody gets what they want. There is nothing but the fighting over love and money.

Director Lei Guohua admits that the play is cruel: "If you want something that's way beyond your ability, you will have to pay a big price for it.

"It all started with the desire to own a house which they couldn't afford," she says.

"It's not even necessary, but it can destroy everything. There are people who would rather give up love and family for a house, which is ridiculously sad," Lei adds.

Lei hopes that the play will inspire the audience to think about what is really important in life after they watch the show.

The stage setting is very simple. There is only a bed, a table, some cupboards and shelves that can be easily moved to create the shabby places where the sisters live. It is performed in Chinese without subtitles.

Date: through August 30 (closed on Mondays), 7:30pm

Venue: Shanghai Drama Arts Theater, 288 Anfu Rd

Tickets: 100-150 yuan

Tel: 6473-0123, 6473-4567


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