After five years of staggering popularity and constant replay on TV, The Legend of Zhen Huan is heading for Beijing’s stage as a Shaoxing Opera.

Adapted from the Web novel of the same title, the story is focused on the schemes of the Yongzheng Emperor’s concubines during the Qing Dynasty. Zhen Huan, initially a kind and innocent young woman, enters the palace and finds herself caught in a conflict between the empress and concubines.

It doesn’t take her long to discover that the palace is a cruel and harsh place where she has no hope to survive on her own.

While the author Liu Lianzi had considerable creative control over the TV series, she has chosen to distance herself from the stage adaptation citing the need for creative freedom.

“It is better that I let it go and give them plenty of space. As for how it will turn out, I’m as curious as anyone else,” she said. “The stage and TV are entirely different performance spaces. The story is focused more on the mental growth of its many characters, and I expect to see a lot of new elements on the stage.”

Photo by Chai Meilin

Photo by Chai Meilin

Many of the key plots are being preserved in the stage show, though some abridgement will be necessary given the show’s 74-hour length. Liu’s said the death of Consort Hua is especially important, as it marks the moment when Zhen’s mentality changes for the second half of the story.

The stage adaptation is produced by Tian Qinxin and co-directed by the popular young directors Huang Kai and Wang Tingting.

“At its heart it’s a fierce imperial-harem play, but I would like to reveal the beauty of human nature from within,” Wang said. “Frankly speaking, compared to Zhenhuan, I prefer Consort Hua who is crazy about love instead of right.”

Poly Theatre
Through January 11
14 Dongzhimen Nan Dajie, Dongcheng
100-880 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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