“A comedy you must watch in your lifetime!"
"Why would the teacher say that Chun-Cao’s intrusion at the court is in fact a colossal tragedy? Most comedies stem from the absurdities in life. Tragic or infuriating events in our lives are amplified on stage, and as we dissolve into laughter, we contemplate more intently. One moment you are laughing, the next you are crying. Comedies embellish sorrow with joy and substitute anger with parody. As we resign ourselves to the realities of life, there is nothing left to do but laugh out loud.” – Audience Review (quoted by a Chinese Teacher in class to train critical thinking)
A comedy not to be missed!
This classic jingju (Peking opera) play centres on the smart and witty maidservant, Chun-cao, who used her intelligence and sharp words to turn a bad situation around, bringing about a blissful marriage for her lady. The story is told in a lively and humorous manner and spotlights on the role of hua dan (lead female role) and chou (clown role).
Li Banyue, daughter of the Prime Minister, went up hill for a pilgrimage with her maidservant, Chun-cao. They were harassed by Wu Du, son of the Minister of Personnel, but were luckily saved by the chivalrous witness Xue Meiting. Banyue did not know what to do in return, but she was very grateful for the passerby’s help. Xue Meiting went down the hill and saw Wu Du beating a fisherman to death to get his daughter. Out of rage, Xue beat Wu to death and turned himself in right away, not wanting to implicate others.
Chun-cao was worried about Xue Meiting. She rushed to the court to see what was going on and saw Wu’s mother throwing her weight around, forcing the Magistrate Hu Jin to sentence Xue to the penalty of caning to death. Chun-cao broke into the court to stop the sentencing. Cornered by Magistrate Hu’s questioning, Chun-cao made up a lie and claimed that Xue was betrothed to her mistress. Wu’s mother was shocked while Magistrate Hu was still suspicious. He ordered Chun-cao to lead him to the Prime Minister to verify her claim.
Along the way, Chun-cao tried to come up with some ideas to procrastinate. When they got to the residence, Chun-cao talked her mistress into admitting the engagement in order to save Xue. Banyue had no choice but to vaguely agree. Magistrate Hu believed them and rushed to the capital to ask for rewards for his credit. Banyue had to go with Chun-cao to the capital to see her father.
The Prime Minister blamed Banyue for overstepping the boundaries. He wrote a letter refuting the claim that Xue was his son-in-law and ordered Magistrate Hu to execute Xue. Chun-cao and Banyue intercepted the letter and revised it into an acknowledgment of the marriage. Magistrate Hu was thrilled when he got the letter, and arranged a high-profile trip to send Xue to the capital to get married. The news spread and all the officials from the capital and provinces started sending gifts to congratulate the family, and even the Emperor also bestowed a plaque upon them. Prime Minister Li had to accept the situation and let Banyue and Xue Meiting get married.
Main Casts: Huang Shih-ya and Chen Yuan-hung