The Ballad of Mulan (3 stars)

This article is from 2019

The Ballad of Mulan

credit: Ross Ericson

A faithful but forgettable retelling of the Chinese legend

With the new Disney remake of Mulan just around the corner, was a one-woman show a bold decision or a foolish one? Based on the Chinese poem of the same name, Michelle Yim stars as the young woman who ran away from her family to serve in the army and save her father from conscription.

Mercifully, this adaptation doesn't have any of the gloss of the movie; no talking dragon, no romance, no musical numbers. Instead, this is a grittier side to the story, strewn with graphic descriptions of war. The internal conflict of being unsure where Mulan belongs, behind a loom or in the heart of bloke culture, is well-portrayed by Yim and is more relevant now than ever. Her performance plays nicely between masculine and feminine mannerisms, although it suffers from some nervous and overly-loud line delivery.

The middling and occasionally over-flourished writing by Ross Ericson does not leave any lasting impression. The themes of gender and war aren't taken far enough to give anything new to the story and it comes off as a slightly bland retelling of a familiar story.

Assembly Rooms, until 23 Aug (not 15, 17, 19, 20, 22), 4.05pm, £10–£12 (£9–£11).

The Ballad of Mulan

  • 3 stars

Grist to the Mill Productions A woman, a warrior, a Chinese legend – Michelle Yim (The Empress and Me) brings to life the real Mulan who, to save her family's honour, disguised herself as a man and joined the emperors army. For ten long years she marched with them, fought with them, became a general, a hero, but just how…