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“命运建筑师之远大前程 (Grand Expectations)” – English review

February 13, 2011

Title: “Grand Expectations” (part of Esplanade’s Huayi Chinese Festival of Arts 2011)
Director: Edward Lam

Playwright/Creative Director: Sylvia Chang
Venue: Esplanade Theatre
Run: 5 & 6 Feb 2011 (part of Huayi Festival 2011)

(The review in Chinese can be found in the previous post here.)

Little Devil (David Wang) and Baby (Lee Sinjie) are a pair of actors who specialise in posing as the perfect couple to help their clients in marketing their products. Once lovers, they have a love-hate relationship. Baby wishes to find her own happiness while Little Devil dreams of striking it rich. During one of their stints at a property launch, they meet Moses, the architect.

Moses (Tony Yang) is inspired and inexplicably attracted to Baby, the way she looks pregnant and her uninhibited way of expressing herself, her opinions of home decor, etc. He hires her to be his inspiration for a new project, to play a pregnant “happy wife at home” where she would stay at his house. However, as much as Baby wishes the situation to be real, Moses neglects her whenever he is inspired to work on his design. She is lonely and unhappy, unlike the role she plays. In a turn of events, she discovers she has a hereditary eye disease that slowly renders her blind. She decides to leave Moses once she serves her purpose and also have a last meal with Little Devil. Both Moses and Little Devil finally realise their real feelings for her when she disappears from their lives.

On another note, while seeking treatment for her eyes, Baby meets a doctor (Wang Zhan) who was coincidentally at that fateful launch, and who was also attracted to her then, only that she didn’t notice him then. Unfortunately, now she can’t really see him clearly, but they eventually get married and she has finally found her real happiness, using her heart to see.
First things first, I found the play a tad long. It was 3 hours long. Yes, that’s a long time, but Design for Living was of about the same length and it didn’t feel that long. If I were to compare the two, I enjoyed Design for Living more. Nevertheless, the story picked up in the last half hour, which redeemed it in that aspect.

One interesting style was when I wondered why the playwright revealed the outcome in the beginning (1st scene), i.e. of who she chooses in the end. Eventually, I realised what it meant when during a narrative in the beginning, Baby said that “if I knew this day would come, I would have looked at you more carefully”. Because she became blind.


1)Two men who don’t understand what a woman’s happiness really is.
Little Devil thought that being rich will bring a woman happiness, so he keeps chasing after the “big money”, wanting to be his own boss without being practical first. I believe he wanted to provide for Baby, but she probably wanted a more stable relationship.
Moses thought he could ‘build’ happiness by creating a house that a woman wants. But an empty house is not a home; a perfect house on the outside but emptiness inside is fruitless. A woman needs something real and speaks of a future, to build a home together.

2)Maybe I’m reading too much into things, but was the naming of the character “Baby” on purpose? An overuse of the word that it has become too cliche or meaningless? No longer precious. (Actually, a better translation of the “宝贝” is “Precious”).

3)Baby was always living in a world of “fake” happiness, something short-lived and temporary, that only exists in role-play. So what the eyes see physically isn’t real, only what we see in our hearts is.

4)Sometimes, you can’t see what you see, you can’t hear what you speak; you don’t see what you should have seen and miss it; you speak what you do not mean and don’t know what you say.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeremy permalink*
    February 13, 2011 10:47 pm

    Thanks for writing an English version!

    By the way, I couldn’t make out what you thought of the play. Did you like it? Was it good?

    • Ilkosa permalink
      February 13, 2011 11:52 pm

      It would have been better if it had been shorter. I wouldn’t say I super love it although the last half hour lifted the show. I don’t think it’s bad, and I would probably rate it at 3.5 to 4 out of 5.
      I very much preferred “Design for Living” 2 years ago which I felt was better in the dynamics, choreography and the underlying theme portrayed.

      Haha…hope I answered your question.


  1. “命运建筑师之远大前程 (Grand Expectations)” – 中文评介 (Chinese review) « Buttons In The Bread

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