FRINGE 2017: The Monkey King Gets HIs Staff

Chinese Opera is an art form which I know very little about. However, like I always say about classical music, you don’t need to know a lot about something to appreciate and enjoy it. Trust me when I say that there is a lot to appreciate and enjoy about the fantastic, funny, incredibly impressive performance put on by Jing Ju Canada.

The show opened with some outstanding dance performances showcasing the traditional Chinese style of dance. The performers were fluid and graceful and the choreography was interesting and well done. More often than not, when there were multiple people dancing onstage at once, each individual was doing something completely different. The effect that this created overall was beautiful and captivating. Each dance seemed to tell a story, be it the interplay of the 4 elements, or the crushing heartbreak of lost love, such as the case of the passionate solo umbrella dance.

The Monkey King Gets His Staff told the story of the Monkey King. As the story goes, he learned a number of arts from Buddhist monks and he was an extremely gifted student. However, he did not have an adequate weapon to fight with, so he endeavoured to borrow one from the Dragon King, who was famed for his expansive armoury. This story was told through light-hearted comedy, elaborate costumes and makeup, and incredible acrobatics. The storyline acted as a foundation on which the performers could enact fantastic fight scenes using martial arts, swords, staves, hammers and more. Each fight was more elaborate and impressive than the ones that came before and each performer revealed an outstanding amount of mastery and skill on a number of weapons.

I would recommend this show whether you’re familiar with Chinese Opera or not. It was funny, captivating and beautiful, and an excellent chance to see a part of a culture that you may not know much about. The skill of each performer goes beyond what I can put into words, and the costumes and video projection sets were outstandingly beautiful. Who knows, maybe their show will even inspire you to go on adventures and find a staff of your own!