• Amy Toledano

Lost Laowais presented Eschaton Theatre

What Is It?

A satirical delve into the Beijing expat experience.

What Is It About?

Julian, a long-term Beijing expat, meets Lisa in his search for a new roommate. She is British with Chinese heritage, but he’s the one fluent in Mandarin. She resents his snooty consideration of himself as a ‘good’ immigrant, but ends up developing a relationship with Robert, a famous travel writer who is Julian’s idol.

How Did It Make Me Feel?

Lost Laowais lumbers itself with an unnecessary preset and the protagonist is immediately unlikeable. It also draws the short straw with being performed in one of the Vaults’ least charismatic spaces, the Network theatre, which has none of the charm of their more subterranean venues but all of the pokiness. However, eventually we warm to it; it’s funny and self-aware (most of the time, at least), and hones in on a specific experience which does throw up some interesting questions about belonging. It’s preoccupation with this is clear – perhaps too clear, as it ends up circling around a lot of the same conversations without developing them. There’s also a lack of the character detail that we really need to want to get sticky with such reprehensible people for an hour. Also, this would be a good radio play, but had an odd lack of theatrical flair; scene changes are clumsy and the production doesn't really solve the problem of its staging.

Anything Else?

The production is interested in its subject to the expense of its form as a piece of live performance.

Grace x

Lost Laowais is playing at The Network Theatre, VAULT Festival until the 9th February 2020.

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