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'The play is like an avalanche'

A four-character play about a dinner party gone wrong is East West Theater's first production of the year. The guests come a day early, there's no food in the house and good manners go out the window, says Sam Riley.

After an eight-month break, the East West Theater group is back with its first production of the year, a drama by renowned French playwright Yasmina Reza about a dinner party gone wrong, with three different endings.

The four-person play "Life X3" opens on Friday at 8pm at the Art Lab of the Museum of Contemporary Art in People's Park. Performances are also on Saturday and Sunday, and then on March 26, 27 and 29.

Directed by Jonathan Geenan, who steered the hugely popular "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and the Depression-era drama "Awake and Sing," the play is intriguing and engaging.

The East West Theater group aims to bring Western theater to both a Chinese and expat audience, in the hope of building on the city's burgeoning theater community.

"Life X3" involves two couples and their unusual dinner conversations. Reza has crafted three different possible scenarios from the same dinner party with three different endings.

"Anyone will be able to see themselves in this play. It's really modern, and Reza has her finger on the pulse and she really digs deep," Geenan says.

"The play is about a dinner party gone wrong, the guests come a day early and there is no food in the house," he says.

The play shows three different situations, and just a different tone of voice in the opening two minutes of a scene can completely change the outcome at the end, he says.

Reza's work has been translated into more than 30 languages and has been performed around the world. She has written six novels and two screenplays as well as acting in a number of productions.

The play has a top-drawer international cast, and the four actors have extensive professional acting experiences.

Making his debut in Shanghai is United States actor Thomas Caron, who has more than 25 years' experience in the theater. He has operated his own theater companies and performed in Hollywood and New York.

Australian Charmaine Grey, an East West veteran, returns to tread the boards once again after a star turn in "Awake and Sing." The National Institute of Dramatic Arts-trained actor wowed audiences playing a mother desperate to hold her family together in the Great Depression.

The play also stars Canadian Philip Knight, a graduate of the George Brown Theater School, who has acted in Toronto for the last seven years.

Finally, making her return to the stage is freelance film maker, Trinidadian Julliette McCawley, who had a small part on East West's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

Geenan says the audience can look forward to an intense piece of theater.

"It's a testament to the actors. The play is like an avalanche, one and a half hours long with no intermission, and it hits you like a couple of slaps in the face."

Date: March 13-15, 26-27, 29, 8pm

Venue: Art Lab, Museum of Contemporary Art, Gate 7, People's Park, 231 Nanjing Rd W.

Tickets: 200 yuan, including a glass of wine (available from Art Lab Restaurant and Lounge)

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