Wetlands of a Woman

photo by Yvonne Chan
South China Morning Post
McMuiMui Dansemble & Princess Blackbox
Shouson Theatre, HK Arts Centre
Kevin Kwong

In this dance-drama crossover, which promises to explore a woman’s “most private and forbidden territory”, choreographer/dancer Abby Chan Man Yee and playwright/actress Wong Wing Sze use physical and verbal narratives to unravel a murder mystery.

A woman is found dead in an apartment with her throat slashed. An autopsy later reveals that, prior to her death, the deceased had had a sexually arousing encounter, although there is no evidence to suggest that she had had intercourse. The show then retraces the hours leading up to the murder: the woman receives a phone call from an ex-lover and a rendezvous is hastily arranged, as both are now married. The narrative is non-linear and abstract, which works well as Wong and Chan – the show’s creators and performers – are not interested in simply telling a story – they also want to raise issues that question how women perceive themselves socially, psychologically and sexually.

Is a woman’s obsession with youth, physical beauty and sexual desirability a result of social pressure, or is it something innate and instinctive? Do women want to look good to please themselves or just to please men? Is the woman in the drama a victim of male violence or something of her own doing?

In a shoe-shopping scene, as the woman (Chan) tries out a pair of new shoes for her secret meeting, the shop assistant (Wong) lets fly, mocking her customer’s desire to please and her superficiality. Her use of profane language when referring to female genitalia is shocking.

Chan’s sensuous and powerful choreography works well with Wong’s humorous, dark and somewhat conceptual script. Yuri Ng’s set and costume designs contrast fantasy and reality by juxtaposing posh frocks next to a row of ugly plastic buckets. The wetness alluded to in the title has less to do with sexual arousal than with a woman’s swear and tears.