Review: Long Distance Relationships for Mythical Times

by Lynn on August 10, 2022

in The Passionate Playgoer

Live and in person at 401 Richmond St. W. Toronto, Ont.  as part of SummerWorks, 2022. Only plays until Aug. 10, 2022.

Written, sound design and performed by Gloria Mok

Direction and dramaturgy by Theatre du Poulet, 2b, and Nightswimming

Food and preparation by Gloria Mok and her mother.

Long Distance Relationships for Mythical Times is an exquisite, elegant production using memory, myth and Chinese (Cantonese) cultural ceremony to tell the story. It is also the most wonderful, easy example of creating a community that I’ve seen in a long time.

The small group is taken to a room on the third floor of 401 Richmond St. W. that is laid out simply for about 12 guests with a tea cup and saucer and chopsticks laid neatly across a folded napkin all of which sit on a placemat. We are given our name card with its own holder to be placed in front of us so our fellow guests can clearly read our names.

There are two lazy-Susans on either end of the table with two tea pots: one has loose-leaf Jasmine tea and the other has hot water for topping up. Many of the people in the room know each other. Some don’t. But with such an intimate group, conversation is easy. We are all curious about our fellow guests and there is easy banter. This is all before Gloria Mok begins the play. If this isn’t community, I don’t know what is.

Gloria Mok is dressed in what I suppose is a traditional Chinese dress, ‘buttoned’ on the side. There are various props in front of her to tell her stories: a red bean, a curled root of some sort, a ‘stone’ ball, a fan, a box of sand, a computer, and a keyboard on which to play to support her stories. It is all simple and elegant.

She begins the production by lighting a stick of incense because that is a Chinese tradition. She tells an ancient story of a long-distance relationship of a couple that meet by accident, marry, have a child but are separated. They are allowed to meet one day a year. There is longing in the story.

Mok then tells of her parents who met in Hong Kong but were separated when her father went to Montreal for work and her mother remained in Hong Kong. Sending letters was expensive so they sent each other cassettes. Mok had a cassette of her parents talking which she played on her computer while drawing the delicate tape out of the cassette. It is an image that is so evocative and artful and again so full of longing.

Mok then talks of her own long distance relationship with her “apartner” her partner who is apart from her. Sometimes she visits him where he is across the country. Sometimes he visits her. Mok asks us to have a conversation, as if by phone with the person opposite and to remember seven things about them. It’s a fascinating exercise. The people at the table have their own stories of long distance.

And there is food. Each person was asked if they wished to partake of various items from dumplings, to bitter fruit to tea to walnut cookies. I urge you to check all of them. Mok and her Mother prepared the dumplings and the bitter fruit. Eating with your fellow participants is another ceremony of community and respectful of the efforts of Mok and her Mother,

Long Distance Relationships for Mythical Times is a beautiful creation of generosity, open-heartedness, love and sharing. Mok has us thinking about our own relationships, what is important, what is difficult and how we overcome what seems to be impossible. Stunning work.

SummerWorks presents:

Aug. 10 at 1:30 pm

Aug. 10 at 6:00 pm

At 401 Richmond St. W.

Leave a Comment

Respectful comments are accepted on this site as long as they are accompanied by a verifiable name and a verifiable e-mail address. Posts that are slanderous, libelous or personally derogatory will not be approved.