Sex, lies and videotape, Taiwan style

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The latest production of Love On a Two-Way Street (or Zhang Liguo and His Two Wives in Chinese), a comedic social satire by Taiwan's leading contemporary theater group Performance Workshop (PW), is coming to Beijing, serving up the capital's PLA Theater with sidesplitting laughter from September 30 to October 3 (no English subtitles).

Rehersal of Love On a Two-Way Street.

Rehersal of Love On a Two-Way Street. [Global Times]

Love On a Two-Way Street first gained widespread fame in 2002 by being performed simultaneously in Taipei and Shanghai with different casts, touching upon an array of social issues from marriage and politics to social morals and the role of the media.

This latest production, written and directed by Ismene Nai-chang Ting (Ding Naizheng) in cooperation with PW director Stan Lai (Lai Shengchuan), tells of the comic misadventures of a hard-working, good-natured taxi driver and his two wives, who are unaware of each other's existence. Zhang Liguo's double life went well until one day he was involved in a traffic accident, where he picked up a disk recording the sex life of Taiwan's top political and underworld figures.

While trying his best to keep a low profile, Zhang is relentlessly chased by the police, gangsters and paparazzi. However with increasing media exposure, Zhang's private life also comes to light and his secret is made public.

However according to Ting, the new show has been updated, choosing to focus on the sexy scandals that are now ubiquitous in modern media. "In the first version, Zhang was dragged into a kind of political scandal without being aware of it. The adapted version focuses more on the compromising photos, a change which is also reflected in modern society."

Ting explains her inspiration for the new version comes from the Chu Meifeng scandal. Chu, a former Taiwanese politician and TV journalist, was exposed when a sex video surfaced of her together with her married lover, also a politician, in 2001. She was forced to leave office as the secretly-recorded video was made public by a Taiwanese tabloid.

"The incident gave us much food for thought," Ting told the Global Times. "Nowadays, people are living in a super-connected society in which private lives are often violated," she added.

However, the comedy still provides fresh social commentary of Taiwan just as it did in the 2002 version. "Comedies to a large extent are vehicles to criticize society," explained the director, adding that a degree of satire pervades in every element in the play, from the perspective of marriage and the police to the role of media itself.

The show marks the second production of PW's theater season, following Lai's highly acclaimed Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land at the Poly Theater in Beijing from July 29 to August 1. Another two plays, The Village and musical Just Play It, will also be performed on the mainland in November and December.

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