Based on his own stage play, Stan Lai's feature debut is a textbook lesson in finding cinema within and beyond theatre. A rehearsal space has been double booked. One troupe wants to work on Hidden Love, a sob story about an old man's memories of his one great love in old Shanghai. The other is shambling through a farcical parody of the classical Peach-Blossom Land, in which a cuckolded peasant stumbles into utopia but cannot get past his earthly woes. It's predictable that the two plays will intersect to produce new meanings, but not so obvious that those meanings turn out to be working notes for an analysis of key problems in modern Chinese culture. Lai sensibly hired the creative team from Days of Being Wild (cameraman Chris Doyle, designer William Chang) to help him hone a credible cinematic style.
Cast and crew