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York
Shore Looks Good - Drama With Dim Sum?
Phil Hopkins, Travel & Arts Correspondent
Oriental City Restaurant, Leeds
I have three Oriental friends and, over the years, they have challenged me culturally in ways I never thought possible!

They are direct to the point of being blunt, agree that in the family setting 'boys are God', and that requests for a good old Yorkshire hug often leave them feeling distinctly uncomfortable!

But last night the wonderful play Shore to Shore, written by Mary Cooper in collaboration with MW Sun, and staged in the unlikely setting of the Oriental City Chinese Restaurant in Leeds, explained everything, sucking me in with all the dexterity of a black hole.

The play weaves together three revealing and moving stories drawn from different generations of people from the British Chinese community.

Cheung Wing is escaping from war, Mei Lan's had enough of being a potato peeler, and Yi Di wants the impossible for a girl in China; her parents' approval.

As we are taken through a roller coaster of emotions - someone sold into slavery, another desperately seeking to break the claustrophobic ties with her family - you slowly come to understand why people are the way they are.

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When life is at a premium you need to get to the point quickly, when survival is everything there is little time to be lovey dovey, and if carrying a heavy sack of spuds up the mountainside is paramount to survival, then you probably do need a boy in the house! Now, I understand my friends!

Performed in English, Mandarin and Cantonese, this was a beautifully crafted piece of theatre, that kept you intrigued from start to finish because of its fast-moving nature and 'bite sized' story chunks; there was never time to get bored or overthink the issues.

And it was almost drama with dim sum: food was served as the players did their stuff! Food and its relationship to love and survival were important themes in the play, and the restaurant setting certainly enhanced and underlined these connections.

Directed by Yellow Earth's co- founder and former Artistic Director David K.S Tse, Shore to Shore spanned a century of Chinese history through its stories of love and loss, struggle and survival.

On the Wire was the company behind the production and top marks to the performers, Alan Wai, Paula So Man Siu, Yvonne Wan, Jackie Lam, Dandan Liu and Jennifer Leong. Considering there were a few in there from Dublin, Cork, London and mainland China, they did a sterling job with the local Yorkshire accents!

Spurriergate Centre, York - photo by Keltek Trust
This new play will now tour other restaurants and community venues from Glasgow to London, until the 10 June.

Your only chance to see it in these parts again is on 9th-10th June at York's Spurriergate Centre. It was fascinating. Go if only to confirm that you are not racist or that if you are, why you shouldn't be! For tickets: 01904 629393.

Shore Looks Good - Drama With Dim Sum?, 19th May 2017, 15:55 PM