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Friday, Sept. 28, 2012

‘Man Like Hong Kong’ Remains a Mystery

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 A Man Like Hong Kong is Off the Wall Theatre’s current offering to the Euro-mystery genre, promising international intrigue steeped in a back story filled with dark secrets and displaying requisite stealth espionage. Written and directed by Off the Wall Artistic Director Dale Gutzman, the two-hour (with 12-minute intermission) production raises a number of questions about the nature of loyalty, the sins of the past, knowing people and knowing ourselves. Yet the “man” in Hong Kong, British secret agent Alistair Caruthers, remains a mystery by story’s end, since we don’t really learn much about him and the other characters in this six-member ensemble.

After 30 years of serving his government while living in Hong Kong, Alistair is faced with having to kill himself under orders from the same government that placed him there. His crime? Falling in love with an underage student and having to flee his native England. Complicating matters for Alistair is his loyal wife, Flo, a secret lover and his Chinese counterparts.

With such one-dimensional characters, it’s a challenge for the actors to make the most of what’s simply not there. David Roper does a nice job (as best he can) with his proper British demeanor (and accent) as Alistair. But the talented Marilyn White has little to do besides fret and look puzzled, given the ambiguity of her role as wife Flo.

There are some crisp moments of dialogue and acting (Tairre Christopherson’s flamboyant, fading Chinese opera star brings some much-needed energy late to the show). Overall, however, A Man Like Hong Kong remains an unintended mystery start to finish.

A Man Like Hong Kong
runs through Sept. 30 at Off the Wall Theatre. For more information, call 414-327-3552.