Review: Taiwan Season: Once Upon A Daydream by Sun Son Theatre

Brightly coloured and bizarre, this Taiwanese live-action cartoon becomes surprisingly touching

dance review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Taiwan Season: Once Upon a Daydream
Published 04 Aug 2018

The story seems simple at first. A harried office-worker wishes for love, sending romantic notes on the wings of birds out through her city window. And then there's a fish. The fish is also looking for love. Or is the fish the dreaming soul of the lonely woman? Both are played with precise physical articulation by Chuang Hui Yun, and both arrive at their own happy ending, after some interventionist pink heart balloons bounce in to turn fate their way.

It sounds bonkers, and it is. It is also superbly executed, funny and adorable. Benches of musical instruments form a base for composers Chen Zi Yin and Ivan Alberto Flores Moran to create incidental music and continual live foley. The company's name—Sun Son Theatre—comes from the Chinese words for 'body' and 'sound', and director Leonson Ng ensures both components have equal, mutually reinforcing weight. The responsive, cartoonlike soundtrack supports an array of responsive, cartoonlike animations by visual artist and show creator Liu Wan Chun, which play across the back screen and appear to interact with Chuang's onstage performance. 

Although children will certainly be absorbed by the bright colours, clear comic mime and visual magic, Once Upon A Daydream is billed as a fairytale for adults, and grown-ups can appreciate the technical trickery of projections and human special effects in a way that would be lost on younger viewers. We join in a bedroom rock concert, marvel at the beauty of pastel-lit bubbles, and feel our hearts swell at the sweet conclusion just as much as any kid would.