REVIEW: Mooncake, Written on the Waves

This new piece of audio drama as part of the Written on the Waves project highlights in an understated but effective way the rise of hate crime against East-Asian people during the pandemic.

Created by Nicola T. Chang and Isabella Leung, Mooncake is a fascinating (if all too brief) audio drama that really makes the audience feel as though they are a fly on the wall as they listen and experience this immersive audio journey.

Set around the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, the piece examines the experiences of Michelle, who has moved from Hong Kong to London to pursue her academic career. Surrounding the audience with sounds of the kitchen, Michelle receives a mooncake (a traditional dessert eaten as part of the festival that celebrates the moon) and skypes her family who are concerned about the increasing level of hate crime directed at East-Asian people during the pandemic.

While initially the news stories are quiet in the background, the gradual build up of sound through Chang and Leung’s well thought out piece really makes the audience sit up and pay attention. This is particularly heard when people share their experiences of abused in the street and Donald Trump proclaiming it to be a ‘Chinese virus’.

But as well as this, it highlights how torn Michelle is between loving living in London, her friends and job while trying to convince her family to move over here – showcasing perhaps her sense of isolation from her family during the pandemic. It has been very sensitively written and the audience feels completely immersed in Michelle’s world.

This being said, it feels in places that there are so many different ideas and being swirled around that it can feel as though it needs refining in places – or given extra time to spread out the thoughts and ideas that Chang and Leung are trying to express. At twenty minutes it does feel as though there is room for expansion.

What really shines through though is the way in which Mooncake doesn’t offer any answers, rather that it is looking to raise awareness of the lack of compassion and the abuse from people during the pandemic has left East Asian people living in different communities feeling even more vulnerable and isolated. It is a powerful piece in an understated way.

By Emma Clarendon

Mooncake is available to listen to as part of the Written on the Waves project here.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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