Having jumped on the Chimerica bandwagon fairly late, I’d read plenty of reviews telling me it’s the best play of the year so I figured it was a pretty safe bet.
Chimerica is a play that follows the story of the Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989, and in particular the iconic photo of a man standing in front of a column of tanks that has come to symbolise the event in the Western world. Exciting new playwright Lucy Kirkwood has cleverly interwoven the stories of each character, and perfectly balances the personal and geopolitical, managing to hold the attention of the audience for almost three hours. I even felt slightly disappointed when the curtain came down for the interval!
The story focuses on Joe Schofield, a fictional American photojournalist who finds himself in Beijing during the protests of 1989 and took the iconic photo, and who in 2012, tries to uncover the identity of the anonymous ‘Tank Man’. The action hurtles between China and America, and Schofield’s journey challenges friendships, threatens his job and even jeopardises the safety of his contact in Beijing, Zhang Lin.
The set captures the atmosphere of New York’s Chinatown unbelievably well, and I really felt as though I were being transported around the globe with each turn of the cleverly revolving set. There were over 40 scene changes, and the use of projection and technology highlighted the highly complex and fast-changing relationship between China and America. Chimerica raises huge questions about the governance of China, but also about the ethics of journalism and media, and the role that the Western world should play in global society today.
I could easily say it’s the best play I’ve ever seen; I simply can’t do it enough justice here. Boy, have people underestimated how good it is! If this doesn’t win Play of the Year I’ll be severely disappointed, as it deserves Play of the Decade! Kirkwood is undoubtedly one to watch, so make sure you tune in to her new TV series The Smoke, which will be airing on Sky One later in the year.
Catch Chimerica at the Harold Pinter Theatre before the 19th October, there are still a limited number of tickets available. www.chimerica.co.uk