Soul of Shaolin the first production from China to be imported to Broadway, should not really be mistaken for a play, though the hype describes it as a vehicle for a moving story. In truth, the story, which is a slender and highly predictable thing about a mother and son separated and later reunited is the vehicle for a number of martial arts demonstrations from the discipline of Kung Fu. And if an evening of that filling your eye is also enough to lift your spirits, then The Soul of Shaolin is definitely worth a look. The dexterity of the moves is—not in the caual sense that has diminished the word, but in its true sense—awesome, and the ensemble “numbers” are among the most intricately choreographed and spectacular routines you’re ever likely to see. (Well, the fight choreography not so much. It’s clearly “fight choreography” with true punches pulled, clearly nobody’s getting hurt, so there’s not as much suspense or thrill to it as the martial arts drills and challenges.) The story, because it is so simple, is told almost entirely in mime, with no need for supertitles.
If your sensibility is like mine, a little of this stuff goes a long way, so decide accordingly. But that caveat noted, seeing the ensemble of dedicated artists go through their paces in person is quite a bit more exhilarating and inspiring than seeing similar stuff on video, and it sure is theatre.
Now if it would inspire a really good musical…Return to Home Page