My Theatre

09 April 2019

Little Potatoes at the Old Red Lion Theatre

By // Theatre (London)

Little Potatoes is an extraordinary, heart-warming tale of two women residing in China who lose a child in two very different ways. It explores China’s ‘one child’ policy, and how it impacted the lives of many, particularly women, where conforming to social rules highlighted the real fragility of life.

The sole two characters, who adopt a few roles throughout the performance, are engaging actors who use explorative staging to capture their audience. The play starts off with Liuyang (Sarah Curwen) searching for a potential candidate for her daughter to marry and have children with. Not before long, she bumps into another mother searching for a woman for her son to marry, Hong (Michelle Wen Lee). Both women bond over the yearning for grandchildren and whilst setting their children up on a date, explore what it was like for them growing up in a ‘one child’ policy era. Both mothers lost children, and while the experiences differed, both circumstances are underpinned by China’s rules with regards to children and particularly girls. One mother was a family planning officer, which the other mother later finds out and immediately expresses hostility for the character. The performance ends with both mothers having grandchildren, in not quite the traditional way they expected. They do, however, eventually embrace the unique situation. Freedom can be the true meaning behind the ending, which in a way, both mothers eventually re-live through the lives of their own children’s liberation.

The stage is simple and calming with no need for further props or set. Both actors deliver an emotional performance which really draws you in, bringing many of the audience to tears. Overall, the production is thought provoking and well-executed. Clare Reddaway and Bryn Holding (writer and director) have done a superb job in addressing a highly sensitive issue encompassing humour, thought, love, and most importantly vulnerability and sadness – this show is highly recommended. Although be prepared – it will get you laughing one minute, and crying the next.

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