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Cart Noodle Show

by on 27 February 2021

Fantastic Frustration

Cart Noodle Show

by ShumGhostJohn

ShumGhostJohn, DARE Festival, Upstart Theatre, Shoreditch, On-line until 28th February

Review by Nick Swyft

Last night I went to the theatre in Shoreditch.  Due to problems getting there, I didn’t have time to look around the gallery, go in the games room or have a drink in the lounge.   Others were in there chatting about the Dare Festival.  I hurried to the auditorium, an usher checked my ticket, and I sat down in my seat.  I pressed the X key and the show started … by Zoom.   You see, I was actually over fifty miles away at home.  Watching a show on-line has become commonplace these last twelve months, but thanks to new technology I visited the theatre too!!

Putting on an effective show via Zoom is a tall order for any arts company.  Better known for their highly innovative contemporary dance productions, ShumGhostJohn (a collaboration between the London based Hong Kong trio, Shum, Ghost and John) took on the challenge with creative gusto with their highly effective Cart Noodle Show, as part of the Dare Festival, hosted by the Shoreditch Theatre via Gather.  *

We were asked if we had ever had Cart Noodle, and they didn’t mean those ghastly tubs of gunk, popular with students, the pot noodle. .  No, we were introduced to the original Cart Noodle as it developed in the street markets of Hong Kong when it was served in metal trays.

The show hinged around a competition.  If the audience scored enough points we were to be treated to a flight to Hong Kong with hotel accommodation (the seasoned viewer might smell a rat!).  In order to win, we were tasked with finding specific items within a set number of seconds.  These games were interspersed with videos titled after various ingredients of a Cart Noodle.  Some of these were incomprehensible (did it matter?) but the hand dance entitled Pak Choi was impressive.  Who knew the human hand could be quite so expressive?

As the show progressed through its thirty minutes, the point began to emerge.  Various audience members had their right to vote arbitrarily removed and the tasks became harder and harder until they were impossible.  Since most audiences will involve themselves with participation enthusiastically, it was interesting to note how disillusionment quickly set in.  One of the presenters rebelled, and walked away.  The remaining presenter, looking very crestfallen, was then informed by a disembodied voice that he must make the game a success.

In this way ShumGhostJohn cleverly managed to communicate their message about what the Chinese state was doing to Hong Kong by actually getting us to feel it.   It is an allegory of our time.

It worked very, very well. 

Nick Swyft, February 2021

Photography courtesy of Ghost and John

[* Editor’s Note:  Gather is a new on-line platform that enables you to visit a theatre virtually to see a show virtually.]

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