Frenchtown: a drama about Shanghai, P.R.C. by Lawrence Jeffery. It is also about India.
Bloody India… I’ve been everywhere everyone thinks they want to go: China, India, Africa, the Middle East — Afghanistan, for fuck’s sake. The only place that scares me is India. I broke my back in Bombay. A few years later I got stuck in a bad monsoon. I picked up pneumonia. I almost died in Calcutta. I couldn’t catch my breath. I was like being in the mountains. The air seemed so thin. Couldn’t get enough of it in my lungs… All those other places nothing ever happened… Something about India… You don’t visit India.. You survive it…
This to me is a marvellous soliloquy and thematically sets up the question of what will happen in China? Oddly the estranged father outs the son in the middle of an exchange about adopting a boy — the queerness making the adoption impossible but of equal weight is the existence of the Chinese boy’s Chinese father and the fact that the man wanting to adopt the child is a foreigner. The “queerness” is almost an after-thought to explain belatedly the estrangement of father and son. It’s an awkward outing. Done in haste. At a moment of leave taking. The scene reads almost like a broken back: disjointed articulations. And that is its appeal — a set piece unsettled by its setting. A piece of bad luck akin to surviving India.
And so for day 951