Rather than tell heroic war stories, the down-to-earth docu-drama Wotou Guild Hall probes the lives of common Peiping dwellers in the year before the founding of the People’s Republic.

The play is notable for its accurate portrayal of the sweeping historical changes shaking Peiping at the time. Its characters navigate the collapse of the Kuomintang regime, soaring inflation and forced Party member recruitment.

At the start of the play, Yuan Guozhong, owner of the courtyard, is shown living on rent, booze and pickles. He cares for nothing except his only sick son. Yuan’s tenants including Tian Cuilan, Gu Yuezong and Jin Murong, all of whom struggle in their own ways.

Wotou Guild Hall was written by Liu Heng, a highly reputed screenwriter and native Beijinger. Liu’s local background allows him to confidently craft his characters and their language.

This production stars top actors from both stage and screen, such as Pu Cunxin, Song Dandan and Xu. The play has grossed more than 10 million of yuan since its debut in 2009.

“No one in this play is presented as purely or bad. Each characters has his or her own reasons to be excused for behavior that could easily be regarded as immoral at first thought,” said Lei Jia, one of the actors.

“I left the show feeling that no matter how much life works to keep me down, I can always remain pure and virtuous on the inside,” a viewer wrote on Douban.com.

The Capital Theatre in Beijing
7:30-10 pm, through November 9
22 Wangfujing Dajie, Dongcheng
80-880 yuan

Yang Xin

About Yang Xin

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Yang Xin is a '90s girl who is obsessed with music, tennis, reading and pretty boys. She hopes her life and career will take her around the world.

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