Review: Lost in Shanghai at the Seymour Centre

Review by Kate Gaul


Jane Hutcheon has had an incredible career as a journalist. She is also fondly remembered as the incisive and trusted host of ABC’s “One Plus One” as she elicits incredible stories from her interview subjects. Of all the stories Jane Hutcheon has encountered as an ABC journalist, China correspondent, war zone reporter and author, one has intrigued her more than any other: that of her mother Beatrice’s turbulent childhood in pre-Communist Shanghai. Visiting Shanghai in 2018, Jane began to search for the truth of her mother’s difficult beginnings. “Lost in Shanghai” is the result, a story of an ordinary Eurasian family in extraordinary times, set against a backdrop of fading colonial opulence, civil war and revolution.


In the program she tells us “I’ve always wrestled with identity and belonging. Much of that was bound up with the events of my mum’s traumatic early life. I was too busy travelling the world as a journalist, telling other people’s stories, to unravel the story tucked away in my photo albums and family notes. “Lost in Shanghai” is the story of how I found my Mum - and myself - in the process”


Master storyteller, director William Yang, gently focusses the production having also curated the continual imagery of Jane’s family throughout. Music is composed and performed by Terumi Narushima. It provides an atmospheric counterpoint to the narration. Jane’s story is told in her own words. The staging is elegant and visually striking with a large projection screen linking Jane on one side of the stage with the musician - and an exquisite array of instruments - on the other. Jane’s natural home isn’t the stage and although the delivery of the text and the quality of the story telling is somewhat stilted one can’t help but be moved by the unfailing resilience of her ancestors – especially the women. Jane’s mother is approaching 100 years of age. She, like Jane, has had an incredible life. Her mother may not remember her school days, the glamorous wedding, the international travel – a life richly lived. I challenge anyone not to be moved by this beautiful and moving tribute.


Images Supplied