Australian version of 'Journey to the West' wins new fans

( Xinhua ) Updated: 2015-03-15 16:44:13

Acrobatics, song, puppetry and martial arts combine to spectacular effect in the Australian version of Monkey ... Journey to the West, which will be staged at the Sydney Opera House next month.

Created by Kim Carpenter and co-directed by John Bell, one of Australia's most celebrated theatre figures, the ancient Chinese fable has been given an Aussie touch.

Carpenter told Xinhua on Friday that the Chinese sense of humor in Journey to the West relates well to Australians.

"The Australian sense of humor is similar to the Chinese ... there is an irreverence and that is why this production has been a hit with local people," he said.

"But we have also seen Chinese in our audience. We had Chinese Buddhist monks in the audience, and other Chinese who said they saw the poster outside the venue, and wanted to see the Australian production of a story they knew very well."

Chinese audiences found it interesting seeing this famous Chinese story played by Australian actors, Asian-Australian actor Aljin Abella plays the iconic Monkey and Australian actor Darren Gilshenan plays the rambunctious Pigsy.

The traditional Chinese story has a huge following in China, but it is also well known in Australia, thanks to a Japanese TV production show called "Monkey Magic" that was a big hit in the early 1980s.

Carpenter, celebrated Australian playwright Donna Abela and composer Peter Kennard have adapted the stories from the classic 16th century Chinese novel Journey to the West into a magical, action-packed adventure story for the stage.

This cult folk tale features live music, projections and giant puppets that fill the stage and enjoyed a sold-out premiere season at last year's Brisbane Festival.

"The legend of Monkey, as he is commonly known in Western cultures, has retained its relevance through centuries of retelling with themes that resonate today," Carpenter said.

"Bringing a modern, local flavor to this reimagining of Monkey, Sydney Parkour artists Team9Lives add physical theatre to this classic tale with jaw-dropping tricking throughout."

Sydney Opera House's director of programming, Jonathan Bielski, believes this is a must-see for Australian fans, but will also attract many Chinese living in Sydney.

"Anyone who loved Monkey Magic will delight in learning the origins of this ancient fable and seeing their favorite characters brought to life with meaning as well as a good dose of humor," Bielski said.

The show will perform at the Sydney Opera House from April 4 to 19.

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