Murder mystery play adapted from movie to debut
Revolving around an unknown charred body lying in a black coffin, the mystery play "Deep in the Heart" premieres on Saturday at Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center.
Directed by He Nian, the play is a black comedy adapted from a film of the same name, which won the Grand Prix at the 30th Warsaw International Film Festival in Poland.
Tying together three contemporaneous stories, the play progresses on a non-linear timeline. Living in the same village, three families with their own secrets come to identify the body. A missing teenage girl? A husband who abuses his wife? A ruffian who is in debt? The three families take advantage of the unidentifiable body to disguise their scandals.
Unlike the film, in which the story happens in a rural village in Henan Province, the stage version of "Deep in the Heart" is set in a tightly knit village in Guizhou Province in light of the stage design.
A 12-meter-tall stilted building, a common style for traditional Chinese residences in Guizhou that prevents water from flowing in, has been constructed on the revolving stage.
The building houses seven spaces, including a bedroom, sitting room and small shop. Even the goods placed in the shop were carefully selected by the crew based on a field trip in Guizhou.
Fourteen trucks were required to transport the 4,500-kilogram building.
Two cameramen will walk onstage and shoot videos of actors in real time. Played on a big screen and many televisions placed on both sides of the stage, the videos enable the entire audience to see details of the show. Both underwater filming and aerial shots will also be used.
"The play explores our distance from evil," said He. "Most of us believe that we are far from evil, but through the play we find that actually we are very close to it."
All the actors will speak with Guizhou dialects. Additionally, the music of folk singer Yao Shisan, a native of Guizhou, adds an ethnic touch to the play.
In order to create an immersive experience, the theater has several "villagers' seats," which are placed on the second floor of a small building on the left side of the stage, for viewers.
Dates: Through January 16, 7:30pm (2pm on Sundays and January 15, no performance on Mondays and January 11)
Tickets: 180-580 yuan
Venue: Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center
Address: 288 Anfu Road