Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Expat Wife

Last night I went out with some friends to see a  musical comedy called “The Expat Wife”. One review described it as “a hysterical romp through the maze of social and cultural adjustments needed to survive the expatriate world”. The main character in the play, Felicity Edwards-Scott, has abandoned her career in England to dutifully follow her husband to Hong Kong. Together with their son, they must adapt to their new life as expatriates. This includes signing a work contract, finding an apartment, hiring a domestic helper, dealing with suddenly frizzy hair, and making new friends. Regarding the latter, Felicity meets a group of well-meaning  international women who are Japanese, British (think Catherine Tate), American and Swiss-German, and they take her under their collective wing. She gets caught up in the whirlwind pace of an expatriate’s life and drifts further away from her husband and son. While I cannot say I entirely related to Felicity’s expatriate world of tennis matches, beauty salons, shopping sprees, and gin and tonic luncheons, I certainly identified with her difficulties with the language when trying to give a taxi driver directions, for example. My favourite character in the play was easily the Japanese expat wife, who delivered some hilarious lines (I think I may have actually snorted out loud when she called Felicity “Facility”) and perfected every flick of  her wrist and tilt of her head. The singing Filipino maid had me in stitches too. There was a lot of dialogue, and the costumes were excellent. Another aspect of the play that impressed me was how it was fairly “clean”, and all the stereotyped characterizations were comically funny without being nasty. Perhaps the only downside to the play was that it was obviously written for an audience in Singapore, and some of the references to places and stores were irrelevant.

This was the group of ladies I went to the play with. They are mostly friends from ICS and playgroup. We are posing with Audrey Currie, fourth from the right, who wrote "The Expat Wife" and starred as the lead character, Felicity. I learned that she is Australian and was a member of the mother's group last year before she moved to Singapore with her family. I was thrilled to meet Audrey and congratulate her on a fantastic performance. She is just a mum like us, really down-to-earth, living in another country, and finding humour in her experiences as a stranger in a strange land.

“The Expat Wife” is playing all this week at the Shouson Theatre, Hong Kong Arts Centre.

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