The mainland version of "Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land" is to be staged at Shanghai Grand Theatre on December 8.
The sell-out production features China's top TV drama actors as well as stars from Taipei's Performance Workshop and players from the National Theatre Company of China.
Taiwan director Lai Sheng-chuan (Stan Lai) said it was an honour to perform at the Capital Theatre, where so many great plays, such as the "Teahouse" and "Thunderstorm " have played.
Though "Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land" is not quite like any play that the Capital Theatre has seen in the past, it is very likely to be added to the list of the great plays in the theatre's history.
In "Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land," two theatre groups are mistakenly booked into the same theatre for rehearsal. One is performing a modern tragedy called "Secret Love," which tells about a dying old man in Taipei looking for his first love from Shanghai more than half a century ago. The other is performing the farce "In Peach Blossom Land," lampooning the fabled utopia of classical Chinese literature.
They fight for the stage, and resign to sharing it. What happens is a juxtaposition of modern and ancient times, tragedy and comedy. However different they seem, when put together, the two plays begin to point to a common theme, and the result makes one question, which really is the tragedy.
"Compared to 'Secret Love,' 'In Peach Blossom Land' is actually a heavier tragedy," said Beijing-based drama critic Shui Jing. "The sadness of 'Secret Love' can be attributed to a time, but the sadness of 'In Peach Blossom Land' can only be attributed to man himself."
Huang Lei, who plays Jiang Binliu, hero of "Secret Love," also said he found great tragic elements in "In Peach Blossom Land," and would like to try this part's hero fisherman Tao sometime in the future. In fact during rehearsals he has already tried fisherman Tao and enjoyed it very much.
Since its debut in 1986, there have been four drama versions and a film version of "Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land," the casts having included such famous actors and actresses as Brigette Lin (Lin Qingxia), Chin Shih-chieh (Jin Shiji e) and Lee Li-chun (Li Liqun). Every time Lai re-directed the play, he would come up with some new gadgets, but the structure and plot of the play have remained the same. "I have a principle of not to repair something unless it is broken," said Lai.
The mainland version of "Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land" is closest to the play's original form, except that some details are inserted with new lines that accord with life in today's Beijing.