The Forbidden City

I quite enjoyed this musical.

So must our government. One of the underlying themes of the show is how an unregulated, untrammelled, free-wheeling media can distort the truth, and the chaos that distortion can cause.

Basically, English painter forms a close relationship with Empress Cixi. Empress opens up to her, sharing her life story. English painter relates all this to a sly English journalist who she’s falling in love with. He happily humours the painter’s infatuation as he writes a fantastic tale of an evil Empress mother murdering her son. This story gets broadcast, much to the chagrin of Empress and English painter.

English journalist goes on a long drawl about how his readers want something exciting and juicy, not the truth. The truth doesn’t sell. And, also, about how he is part of a cunning international plot to destabilize China, on a mission from the Crown!

The free press, a dangerous institution indeed.

Other themes that were touched on: Orientalism, Historical narratives and powerplays. Also, the power of literarature versus painting:

One can share in the English painter’s frustration, who after having completed a fine painting of the Empress, sees her attempt to portray this towering woman completely washed aside by the fibs the English journalist tells.

Hers is just a portrait, his a narrative long remembered, more easily reproduced.

2 thoughts on “The Forbidden City

  1. What a coincidence! Francis and I are thinking of checking it out before it wraps up end of the month. What price tickets are worth getting? I’ve not seen a Singapore musical or been in the Esplanade Theatre yet. Thanks and hope all’s well with ya.

  2. Hey Cenkudu chumps, long time no blog! I just heard about the French cycling duo that are attempting a Singapore to Paris ride/flight and thought about both your explots. Any updates? Hope all’s well. Cheers, Mei

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