The very moment Ah Yan let out a heartbreaking wail, the kids in front of the stage broke into a chorus of laughter. It was excruciatingly inappropriate, and yet very amusing and liberating.
I had worried that Singing Under the Moonlight 月亮有歌 by Hongjiejie Work Station 红姐姐剧场 would be too naive and unsophisticated, for it is a theatre play for young audiences. The story took us back to several decades ago when Fung Bo Bo and Lin Feng-jiao were the then-popular movie stars. Six best friends from primary school spent all their time together studying and playing; their close friendship forged through bantering, game sessions, tikam, and a secret hideaway deep in the woods.
A sad tragedy loomed when one of the six, the demure and studious Ah Hui, was diagnosed with a serious illness. Their innocent childhood would forever be tainted by separation and loss, and here’s exactly why this play was brilliant: while adults in the audience seat silently wiped away their tears, the children – both the real kids sitting on stools in the kids zone and the six children played by adult actors onstage – have not quite grasp the meaning of a permanent farewell yet. Hence the young audience laughed when Ah Yan, who is the closest with Ah Hui, bawled her eyes out, surrounded by seemingly impassive classmates.
This is the way it should be.
How many times did we only fully understand the circumstances when we looked back at a particular incident years later? It takes time for us to age, to develop our vault of feelings, and to eventually mellow our hard edges. There is no need to hurry, for I believe at each stage, we are equipped with the perfect amount of vocabularies and emotional intelligence to waddle through our life path.
Children at the age of five should not understand death. They mock the sudden burst of tears, because they simply think it is funny, and also maybe because they have already been told many times by the adults in our society that crying at their age is considered shameful and they should start to learn to pull themselves together.
I wish their innocence lingers a little longer. Let their future selves deal with dejection, farewell and sorrow. For now, may they find all the reasons to laugh as they slowly pick up empathy, kindness and love.
Another great bonus of the show was famed songstress Angela Chock 卓如燕, who sang next to the stage in between scenes. The folk songs were familiar and comforting. It was as if she was serenading the audience with lullabies, soothing our melancholy. When the standing lamp was dimmed eventually, our lives go on. May the moon shine upon us always.
(All photos from the Facebook page of Hongjiejie Work Station.)