Caught (Red Stitch) - 85 minutes
After spending two years in a Chinese jail for organising a protest that never happened, Lin Bo (Louis Le) has given an exclusive interview to The New Yorker.
The artist explains what led to his imprisonment and interrogation, which included beatings.
He speaks about the abject conditions in prison – appalling food, cockroaches aplenty and not even a roof above his head.
His journey began when he decided to subvert traditional art and combine it with theatre, upending convention and attracting the attention of authorities.
Since the magazine article came out, he has capitalised on his newfound fame.
Photos by Jodie Hutchinson
For the article’s writer, Joyce (Jessica Clarke), the exclusive story was her entrée into journalism’s big league.
But now a Stanford University professor has questioned elements of Lin Bo’s story and Lin Bo is meeting up with Joyce and her editor Bob (David Whiteley).
This is merely the starting point for an examination of truth, societal expectations and appropriation.
The work of playwright Christopher Chen, Caught debuted in New York in 2016.
It was partly inspired by controversy surrounding the work of American Mike Daisey.
He staged a one-man show titled The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs in 2012, which resulted in a backlash against Apple.
Caught is a cerebral work that, in my mind, starts with promise and ends up as a mess.
From excessively melodramatic to downright confusing, deliberately trying to tie us up in knots, the play didn’t work for me.
While I enjoyed the entree, I felt it became far too convoluted for its own good, losing the audience in the process.
It became bogged down by its own complexity. The words tumbling out of the actors’ mouths lost meaning.
Although it runs for only 85 minutes, the time passes slowly.
While the question of truth is certainly worth exploring, as is cultural appropriateness, Caught’s attempt at being astute is also its downfall.
As I see it, it is too clever by halves.
Language itself became a noose being pulled ever tighter around the actors’ necks.
Among the performers, Louise Le’s opening monologue stood out.
Mind you, I have to say I didn’t believe what his character, Lin Bo, was saying.
One thing I did appreciate was the staging by Silvia Shao, which conveyed the look of a pop-up art gallery, which – as it turns out – hides a secret.
Also featuring Jing-Xuan Chan and directed by Jean Tong, the Australian premiere of Caught is a production for selective tastes only.
It is playing at Red Stitch Theatre until 11th September, 2022.