But love and music are in the air, and apocalypse gives way to absurdity. The slow-paced, contemplative tableau of end-of-millennium ennui is periodically interrupted by a series of extranarrative musical interludes in the building's hallways and elevators. East meets West as a prima donna, three backup females, and a handful of backup males lip-synch to Mandarin translations of American pop tunes and dance around in a campy send-up of a classic Hollywood musical, oblivious to rain, plague, garbage, and hole.
Beyond its blatant psychosexual connotations, the hole embodies a spiritual and emotional vacuum that seems to be a function of a near complete Westernization. Barely a trace of Asian culture remains amid the consumer excesses, overflowing sewage system, and ever mounting piles of garbage. No wonder its inhabitants seek refuge in the utopian fantasy of a Hollywood musical romance.
The U-M Center for Chinese Studies shows The Hole at Angell Hall on Friday, November 22.
[Originally published in November, 2002.]