Rope of Love
Gay ménage a trois. Have we got your attention? Three men and a love triangle might seem like a recipe for a sexually charged cliché piece about gay relationships, but this drama, written by local playwright Pak Li and being staged for the first time, delves much deeper, delivering a universal message.
Rope of Love revolves around lead character Sean, played by Choy Chak-man, who becomes consumed with the desire to find true love. This pursuit is made more complicated by the fact that he is a closet homosexual from a very traditional family. He eventually gets his wish, but is caught in a complicated situation with two other men; torn between exciting casual sex that lacks intimacy, and a bonded relationship with lots of baggage.
Award-winning director Terence Chang enjoys the challenge of dissecting the complexities of homosexual relationships in this play: “Hetero couples sometimes think they must get married, even though it’s not perfect, because they are a certain age or from family pressure. They often settle. In gay relationships there is not the same pressure, so they keep searching for the perfect one. But this search for perfection can become a problem.”
Sean’s struggle to find the perfect solution leads him down a dark road of depression, and along the way several other characters join him for the ride. “The play is about love,” says writer, Li, “but I chose homosexuality because, still, there are some differences between man-man love and man-woman love. Men have a feeling of toughness and they sometimes try to manipulate each other. The rhythm is different. Using gay relationships was much more suitable for the message.” Lead actor Choy adds, “It’s also kind of educational for the audience, showing how gay relationships work and don’t work, and the fact that [often] it’s the same with straight relationships.”
It’s not often that Hong Kong gets to witness the birth of a brand new play, and Chang is all too-aware of the difficulties presented when mounting a new production. But, according to the people involved, it’s all the more rewarding. “Something copied from another country will never have its own famous ‘thing’ that can last forever here. Plays written by the [local] people can really last, and I think Hong Kong needs more of that”. Choy adds, “It’s my first experience working with a new play, and the way we can adapt things and share is really exciting.” The creative team behind the production is full of energy and shiny new expectations, and that magical feeling comes through on stage as this love story with a twist unfolds.
Rope of Love is in Cantonese but, as Li puts it, “love is a common language”. Writer, director, and lead actor all agree that there is enough action and emotion onstage to carry any audience on this rollercoaster ride. And when asked why audiences should check out this world premiere production, Chang’s appropriate response is, “It’s about you”.
Rope of Love runs at the Fringe Theatre on April 3 & 4, 6-8.