Every Dollar Is a Soldier/With Money You’re a Dragon at CAN X Two Temple Place – online
Promenade theatre goes fully digital in Chinese Arts Now and Two Temple Place’s production Every Dollar Is a Soldier/With Money You’re a Dragon. Completely embracing its online medium, the performance feels unique, capturing the essence of live participation in an almost video game format. Audience members pick their online avatars and walk around a virtual gallery, interacting with the digital environment and each other during the performance. As a story of immigration and wealth disparity is told through dance, music and spoken word, it’s easy for viewers to lose themselves and become fully immersed in the dynamic journey.
Running for around 45 minutes, Every Dollar Is a Soldier/With Money You’re a Dragon is an experimental piece that propels viewers into the action right away. 20 audience members’ chosen avatars find themselves in an art gallery after hours. After exploring for a bit, they’re taken to the lobby, where they must follow a glowing orb that will guide them throughout the production.
At the core of this performance is the story of Chinese immigrants. Written and performed by Daniel York Loh, spoken word segments combined with music from traditional Chinese instruments and visceral movement pieces detail numerous poetic tales. As the story of the “successful” William Waldorf Astor is compared with the poor, hardworking migrants, a vast history is touched upon.
One of the most powerful elements of Every Dollar Is a Soldier/With Money You’re a Dragon is the sincerity of its messages from the performers. York Loh’s acting is striking, with his delivery of words portraying an array of emotions that perfectly complement the swell from the music and the dynamic choreography from Si Rawlinson. The effect of the messages around dismantling stereotypes, confronting the audience with the harsh reality of continued prejudice, proves to be long-lasting. However, where the performance falters is in its tonal variation: many segments, although beautifully crafted, feel similar, sending the audience into a lull and not doing the emotive material true justice.
There are also the typical worries of online performance with technical issues arising every now and then, the fluctuation of sound occasionally drowning out York Loh’s words. However, that being said, this experimental piece is one worth experiencing. Unlike most interactive digital performances, its novelty doesn’t wear thin, and it feels like a heartfelt and important watch, especially in current times.
Every Dollar Is a Soldier/With Money You’re a Dragon is available to stream on 28th and 30th April 2021. For further information or to book visit the production’s website here.
Watch a trailer for the production here: