The Tang Dynasty is known for its arts, culture, poetry and general prosperity even to comparative culturally-challenged Chinese (such as me). I have an uncle who is more culturally literate and who has been encouraging me to learn more about this fascinating chapter of Chinese history. So when fellow traveller (hereafter FT) & I were collected at the airport by a guide and a driver & I saw the brochure, I picked it up and gave it a glance. After one of our tours, the guide (more about him in another review) - perhaps seizing a sales opportunity - said he could get us in for a discount price & would we like local cuisine, ie., local dumplings made specially?! FT is vegetarian, we said. No problems, we were told. To be honest, by this time, I was a bit wary of the guide ... he had already mentioned that tourists were not usual at this time of the year, "except for the Russians who love the cold" and I was beginning to think he did not want to be working! His enthusiasm and commentary had been lacking, compared to other guides I overheard (English as well as Mandarin-speaking ... I am not fluent enough in Mandarin & am more fluent in English so it made sense to have an English-speaking guide). ANYWAY, we got there, paid ¥300 to the guide (the tix said ¥388), we were taken to our large table, other patrons were on other tables and we got each got our version of the dumplings ("no meat" for FT). We were told quite sternly that the deal only included 1 glass of soft drink! FT said the vegetarian stuff was OK. I am a bit of a dim sum & dumpling fan so just rated this 4 or 5 out of 10.
Bouquets or (+s): energy of the performers, lavish costumes, the English explanations for the linguistically-challenged (ha ha, includes me, btw), the research. Brickbats? Music or muzak (made me think of 'hooked on classics' if you are of an age that remembers those). The cardboard sword! I kept thinking I was in the land where I could see stainless steel everywhere ... And examples of fine craft, great imitations ... Surely someone could have made the lady sword dancer a lightweight sword for her dance? And not a sword that bent where one would not want it to?!
FT described the show as "cheesiest thing I've seen".
Tip for future viewers: see if you can get a table on the elevated section but the establishment may fill the tables from stage (front) to the back. Show without the dumplings also available. On our table that night was a family who spoke Spanish (one of them was in China studying Mandarin, it seemed to me) and a group made up of 3 20somethings: 1 was American-born Chinese, another an American guy & 3 was a Turkish woman completing a teaching Chinese qualification. The group next to us were Russian. Said to FT, this is for tourists only BUT was proved wrong by a number of Chinese viewers, and I am guessing not all of them were 'hwa qiao' (overseas Chinese).
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