Review: Overheard, Chinese Arts Now at Wun’s Tea Room & Bar

Come for the theatre, stay for the cocktails and dumplings. Overheard does immersive theatre right at Wun’s Tea Room & Bar

“How hot is hot? Is it like western hot or Asian hot?”

The illicit pleasure of listening in on the conversations around you is one which never grows old and it is one that the Chinese Arts Now Festival seems keen to encourage. 2018 saw a production of Ming Ho’s Citizens of Nowhere? which gave us headphones to eavesdrop on a family reunion in the lobby of the Southbank Centre and using similar technology, you can now experience Joel Tan’s Overheard at Wun’s Tea Room & Bar.

At a time when the term immersive is abused so freely when describing theatre, it is a lovely surprise when a production actually gets it this right. Wun’s Tea Room remains open to customers while the show is happening so there’s a real sense of hustle and bustle around you as the wait staff slip between the tables of this atmospheric cocktail bar and restaurant (you can add food and drink to your ticket – I’d recommend the loquat and plum wine cocktail and chilli sesame dumplings!). Continue reading “Review: Overheard, Chinese Arts Now at Wun’s Tea Room & Bar”

Review: Augmented Chinatown 2.0, Chinese Arts Now

An app, a walking tour, audio dramas, augmented reality and music, Augmented Chinatown 2.0 is definitely looking to the future here

“What actually is the Chinese history of this area?”

You have to admire an arts festival that is determined to push boundaries and with Augmented Chinatown 2.0, the Chinese Arts Now Festival is certainly doing that. Download the app onto your phone and a brave new world of augmented reality, specially commissioned music and audio drama is yours, as you’re taken on a walking tour around London’s Chinatown.

It’s a bold and expansive project and as with many technologically-forward things, some aspects work better than others. Playwright Joel Tan’s script is beautifully composed, blending historical detail with socio-cultural commentary to delve into the layers of these Soho streets, of which Chinatown is just the latest. It really does manage that wonderful trick of making you see familiar sights anew (look out for those floor mosaics!). Continue reading “Review: Augmented Chinatown 2.0, Chinese Arts Now”

Review: My White Best Friend, Bunker Theatre

My White Best Friend (and even more letters left unsaid) sees the Bunker Theatre start the process of going out in a blaze of glory

“It’s all we can do to listen”

There’s a couple of months before the Bunker Theatre closes its doors but it does seem a rather wonderful f*** you to bring back their inordinately successful mini-festival and sell out every night before the run even started. Developers may gain from taking over this space but as evidenced here in this kind of forward-thinking, thought-provoking production, London’s theatre ecology stands to lose a lot.  

Co-curated by Rachel De-Lahay and Milli Bhatia (who also directs), My White Best Friend (and even more letters left unsaid) is a raucous piece of gig theatre, centred on a provocation to a range of cracking writers to write letters “that say the unsaid to the people that matter most”. Those letters are then read to a standing audience, sight unseen by different actors every night. And there’s a DJ-led afterparty too, even on a Monday night! Continue reading “Review: My White Best Friend, Bunker Theatre”