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VOLTA International Festival: Review Of Christopher Chen’s Caught
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VOLTA International Festival: Review Of Christopher Chen’s Caught

Picture of Gina Chahal
Updated: 21 April 2016
This September, Hackney’s Arcola Theatre hosts the first VOLTA International Festival, which celebrates innovative writing and international talent. The VOLTA International Festival has selected four highly acclaimed writers from across the globe to present their new plays, including international award-winning playwright Christopher Chen’s play Caught.

Christopher Chen has cleverly crafted a delicate metafiction of a play, which explores themes of politics, race, art and culture. The play follows Chinese artist Lin Bo’s imprisonment and looks into the legitimacy of his story. The plot is filled with twists, turns and watercooler moments, offering a new and slightly unconventional theatre-going experience. The changing scenes, from an art exhibition to a lecture, and the constant questioning of the the protagonist’s story by each character blur the lines of reality and fiction, making the audience think deeper about the piece. Caught is full of surprises as one element of the plot unfolds another facet of the story is unravelled, leaving you writhing in your seat. The unpredictability and suspense of the show is broken up by the few great comedic moments, which have the whole audience in laughter.

The cast, which includes Kathryn O’Reilly, Elizabeth Chan, Richard Pryal, and Kevin Chan, seamlessly fill the stage and simultaneously bring Chen’s vision to life through their exceptional performances. The incredible direction from the winner of the Bulldog Prinseps Bursary, Cressida Brown, challenges the audience to consider how they interpret a dramatic performance like Caught. The Arcola Theatre is the ideal spot for an alternative type of play like this political drama. With its friendly staff and contemporary interior, the theatre is definitely the perfect place to host the fresh talent in the VOLTA International Festival.

Chen’s impeccable witty writing combined with the outstanding performances from the cast make for a truly unforgettable and new theatre-going experience. After seeing this sensational play, we had to speak to the award-winning writer behind the play, Christopher Chen, about his inspiration and the themes of Caught.

What was the inspiration behind Caught?

Being mixed race, I’ve always been fascinated by the East/West encounter, specifically the American perception of China and vice versa. I don’t want to say too much beyond this, because I don’t want to spoil any surprise.

How does the themes of Caught relate to today’s society?

I think the confluence of globalization and data/information overload in today’s society can be both exciting and overwhelming. Overwhelming in terms of parsing truth and authenticity, and recognising that information and stories are coming to us through a multitude of seen and unseen filters. These are some of the themes that Caught wrestles with.

Elizabeth Chan in Caught | © Richard Davenport
Elizabeth Chan in Caught | © Richard Davenport

VOLTA International Festival runs until 19th September.

Caught will be showing at 9pm until 19th September

Tickets are £10-15 per play, or £20 for two, £27 for three, £35 for four (to qualify for discounts, tickets must be booked at once).

Studio 2, Arcola theatre, 24 Ashwin Street, London, UK, +44 20 7503 1646