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Ghost Girl // Gwei Mui

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by Mike Whyte (subscribe)
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Ghost girl's haunting story touches hearts

There is a lot to love about Camden People's Theatre - the fact that it used to be a pub, but now it is a fully functioning charity with its own theatre stage - and the fact that it puts on wonderful experimental theatre.

Ghost Girl//Gwei Mui is definitely a point in case. The story of a Cantonese girl who is born in the UK, and "handed over" to a white British family in a deal made in a Chinese takeaway - the story, based on the personal experiences of the director Jennifer Tang, is both as thrilling and as chilling as the title suggests.

The story snakes around the experiences of the titular girl - cleverly divided at times between the Cantonese girl (Siu-See Hung), and the English girl (Danielle Phillips), who at times seem to be playing with each other and learning dance moves, while at other times re-play each others roles as the lines between reality and memories of the past blur.

The play fulfils everything you want from a good piece of work - there are moments of laugh out loud joy, and moments that shock - the moments where you really are caught are when the the title character seemingly confronts her own image and racially attacks it for "even thinking that boy would like her".

The complex use of structure and visuals works really well, and the flow of the piece is handled with great aplomb by a talented group of actors. Special mention has to go to Tang for bringing out high drama from sometimes quite normal life situations - the ritual of getting ready to go out, and asking to borrow earrings all set against the repetitive yet shifting monologue of the English mother - the Monday visit to the Cantonese mother played out in all of its cringingly familiar reality - easy to understand for anyone who remembers the family visits of youth, not just the language barrier.

I enjoyed this play immensely, and found I was still talking about it long after I had left the theatre. Special credit to Siu-See Hung for her performance which went across the range of emotional performance, and also the visuals shown, which really added to the story, and didn't just end up as something pretty to look at in the background. See it while you can.

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*Mike Whyte was invited as a guest
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Why? This ghost has heart
When: 7.15pm start time across the run of the performance
Phone: 020 7419 4841
Where: Camden People's Theatre, 58-60 Hampstead Road, London NW1 2PY
Cost: 12 (10 concessions)
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