The handbill of Little Prince Hamlet says, "taking the two western classics of Little Prince and Hamlet as the departure point, the work aims at reflecting the traditions and aesthetics of Asian theatre" (translation). Confronting the domination of western cultures, a common trait among Asian countries is the reflexive inner fear and the struggles to exorcise western influences through western culture. This desire also leads to self-reflection, reform and advocacy of traditional values. In the 1980s, we had Wu Guoxing's Peking Opera adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth.
While the story is based on the two classics to investigates the eternal themes of life and death, love and hatred, truth and lies, reality and illusion, Little Prince Hamlet also takes its form to re-examine the aesthetics and vitality of eastern theatre. If we take this as the core idea of the show as stated in the handbill, the form then becomes more important than the content. Two scenes have achieved this. Mugiyono Kasido, the eminent Javanese ancient court dancer from Indonesia, plays the dying king Claudius with his lyrical yet energy-charged mask dance. Moving slowly on the table in serene and restrained movements, the man in mask (which neutralizes the gender roles of both the performer and the character in question) holds the toxic glass in his hands, brings it under the mask, and dies. The death of the King becomes the signifier of the death of the Queen (in the play, it’s Gertrude who died from the poisonous wine). An originally bloody scene transformed into a quiet, poetic and subtle performance. Another remarkable scene is “Ophellia's Song” performed by Daniel Yeung from Hong Kong. Daniel employs Asian theatre elements to re-interpret this famous episode. Cantonese Opera becomes an opera variation with Shakespeare's poem in Korean (which is incomprehensible for HK audience), Chinese dance (水袖) and its expressive body language becomes the key “narrator” of Ophellia’s sad love story. The sound and the movements penetrating each other to give birth to Ophellia's sorrow that pervades in the air, poignant yet gracefully contained. However, the focus of the whole piece jumps from one issue to another, causing confusion and interruption to the audience.
Other than the two choreographers /dancers, Arifwaran Shaharuddin from Malaysia and Kosei Sakamoto from Japan are also choreographers and theatre performers. Chang Jae Hyo from Korea is a composer and performer. Takayuki Fujimoto from Japan is the lighting designer of Dump Type and the multimedia artist of the show. Six of them work out the three main elements of eastern theatre: text, music and dance.
However, these countries' reflections and reactions to western cultural domination should be differed even they are grouped geographically under the same umbrella. For example, Arif’s opening video explores the identity crisis when Islamic Malays have a Christian name. This phenomenon becomes more vexed as religion is at issue here. However, for HK people, having an English name is something internalized, simply too “natural” to cause identity crisis. Such cultural differences exist, just that the understandings between the six artists are not deep enough to tackle the issues. Languages and ideas are the same stereotyping and discourses. As a theatre piece, it failed to develop a unique theatrical language in the discussion of Eastern and Western Theatre.