'Love Dies Slowly, Naturally and Silently' for the post-'80s generation

'Love Dies Slowly, Naturally and Silently' for the post-'80s generation

The cast of 'Love Dies' talks about the play, their dreams and kids these days
love dies slowly chet lam joey leung
The cast of "Love Dies" from left to right: Joey Leung, Birdy Wong, Mei Kwan Shaw, Chet Lam (seated on sofa) and Edmund Tong.

Cantonese theater production "Love Dies Slowly, Naturally and Silently" is like "Friends" for the stage, except it's set in Hong Kong and is carried by the wry, ironic, fatalistic sensibilities of this city.

The drama is focused on the life of a group of penniless freelancers in their twenties who are unable to find full-time employment in Hong Kong's weak economy. 

Lead characters include Lennon (played by actor Chet Lam) who does nothing more than talk about his dreams, Jude (Joey Leung) the gay guy who dares not love having been burned in the past, Michelle (Mei Kwan Shaw) the illustrator who has been informed by her boyfriend that he is getting married but she is not the bride, Ringo (Edmond Tong) the executive whose employment contract has been demoted from permanent to contract and the delivery girl Bird (Birdy Wong) who raises the idea of sharing a tenancy. 

We met with the cast to find out what their own dreams are.

CNNGo: All of you live together as good friends in the play, and each of the characters has personal problems. Are there similarities between yourselves and the characters you play?

Chet Lam: I've always been a very serious person, sometimes so serious to an extent where people around me would feel stressed out. But in the play, my role is that of a dreamer whose dreams are never realized. The one thing which I might find myself similar to this character is that people always laugh at the long faces I pull when I am serious. 

Joey Leung: The part of me which is very much alike to the character in the play is that I always play cool, stay neutral and I try hard to attract attention, despite the fact that I did not genuinely want to be cared for. It took me a long while to accept myself as who I am.

Mei Kwan Shaw: Michelle in the play is very practical, she is a person who can handle different situations and problems, she likes to take control, put on a brave face and be the leader of the group. In fact, deep down she longs for love. I see a bit of myself in her, there are times when I feel weak yet I will want to pretend that everything is under control. 
Edmond Tong: In the story I play the role of Ringo, Michelle’s boyfriend. I would describe him as a Libra, because he loves to take up the role as the peacemaker amongst friends, he refuses to take sides, to an extent that he would bury his own feelings and take someone else’s feelings as his own.

Personally I am a sentimental Pisces, but Libra is my ascendant sign, hence occasionally I would act like Ringo and try to avoid complicating matters. I remember when we first rehearsed, there was a scene where my relationship with Michelle got into trouble. As Ringo, I would choose not to deal with the problems when there were conflicts, for I believe that when two people take different stances, there is nothing much to discuss about.

Birdy Wong: Bird, the girl I play, appears to be happy and brings a lot of joy to those around her. She loves to help others in solving their problems yet failing to address her own and has been avoiding her personal problems in life. I too have the tendency to bring happy news and to hide the bad ones, but surely not as far as Bird goes.

CNNGo: The storyline of " Love Dies Slowly, Naturally and Silently" revolves around the dreams and the struggles in love of young people. What do dreams mean to you?

Lam: I do not believe in dreams, I am a very down to earth person and I believe that only things which can be acheived is real. I would rather describe such thoughts and plans as ambitions, and gradually I would fulfill them.

Leung: One cannot live without dreams, but dreams transform according to the actual environment. Like when you were young you may dream to become a biologist, but when you grew up realizing that you do not have such capability, you then have to reflect on what else could be achievable, and remind yourself to remain positive and keep on walking forward.

Tong: Dreaming should be a continuous process, you cannot put things to a halt once a dream has been materialized.

Wong: It is quite meaningless to stop dreaming, people should keep exploring and searching for new dreams. Most of the time young people of our days think that a dream is nothing more but a dream, that it will not materialize and therefore tend to give up. But I think that if people do not live to chase after things they believe in, they would be living for others and to me life would be meaningless. 

CNNGo: The leading characters in the play are typical "post-1980s" kids -- what are your views about this generation?

Shaw: The "post-80s" are trapped in a complex psychological barrier. On one hand they are in abundance of material goods, they are educated and knowledgeable; on the other hand they are in total confusion. Compared to post-70s like us, post-80s know better how to fight for equality and to defend their rights, they do not share our values of giving more than taking. 

Tong: From their childhood, post-80s are very used to being the receiving party of love and care and material goods, thus finding it harsh when confronted with setbacks. With a mentality similar to that of the characters in the play, post-80s see giving up as their one and only weapon.

Wong: Being a post-80s myself, I do have friends in my circle who believe that giving up is the only weapon, thinking that nothing is really of their concern and that responsibility always rests on someone else. 

Without any family burden, they would not do things they dislike. It does not matter if they fail in getting into university as they could always apply for vocational studies as a backup. All in all there is no intention to fight for anything, the sense of responsibility is relatively weak.

See details for " Love Dies Slowly, Naturally & Silently" at www.wtheatre.org.hk