The Dominion Post
Bittersweet comedy about migrant lives
ORGANISERS of Wellington’s Chinese New Year celebrations and the Fringe Festival are joining forces with a play about an unexpected visit by a Chinese grandmother to her Kiwi family.
Under the Same Moon is a bittersweet comedy written by Renee Liang, a Hutt Hospital paediatrician, mother of two and award-winning playwright.
Chinese New Year Festival organiser Linda Lim says the play’s themes of family, celebration and culture make it perfect for broadening the appeal of the Chinese New Year celebration.
Auckland-born Liang moved to Hong Kong when she was six months old and returned when she was 2.
The play reflects her ChineseKiwi background and the main character, Por Por Grace, includes elements of both her grandmothers.
Liang says the play started out as ‘‘a madcap romp’’ involving a crazy grandmother coming uninvited to her granddaughter’s wedding, offending a lot of cultural norms and shaking up her family along the way.
The story developed to look at family relationships through a migrant lens.
While difficulties such as memory loss, old age and distance are part of the story, Por Por Grace has surprising effects on her granddaughters, each of whom opens up to her in a special way.
‘‘What I really love is being able to get the audience to laugh out loud and in the next minute, turning around and making them want to cry with the pathos of a scene.
‘‘It has a bittersweet ending,’’ Liang says. She puts juggling her roles down to simply being a great multi-tasker, but admits things can be hectic having what feels like two fulltime jobs.
‘‘The unifying thing of everything I do, which is being a mum, being a doctor, being a researcher and also writing plays and poetry, is that I tell stories. I’m very interested in human stories.
‘‘There is such a thing as a Chinese-Kiwi culture now. I feel like I’m very much a part of that and as a writer I’m helping to define that as well.’’
The play is directed by Theresa May Adams, designed by Deb McGuire and stars Hweiling Ow. Under The Same Moon will run at Bats from February 10 till 21.