The Autumn of Han @ TheSpace at Surgeons' Hall

Review by Antony Sammeroff | 22 Aug 2013

The Autumn of Han is a lovely new adaptation of a traditional Chinese play, by Ross Ericson.

It traces the story of ZhaoJun, tipped to be presented to The Emperor of Han as a possible bride, until the corrupt minister MaoYanShao refuses her the opportunity on the grounds that she did not present a bribe her father could hardly afford. With the help of her attendant, Little Yellow Gate, she manages to catch the Emperor's eye and the two of them fall very deeply in love. But not all is well in Han: the threat of war with neighbours may tear them apart yet as the empire falls into ruin in the wake of his devotion.

In this touching tale from the Imperial Court of China, some get their comeuppance – and others meet their fate – in a storyline which is tightly woven and well foreshadowed. What is especially tantalising to behold is the precise body language: the bows, the stares and stances, hand holding, and other etiquette of times gone by as the ancient Chinese culture comes to life for us.

The Autumn of Han, theSpace@Surgeon's Hall, 5.20pm, until 24 Aug, various prices