When Cathy SK Lam first performed The Immigration Lottery her friends were surprised about her representation of the relationship between Hong Kong and the Chinese Government, finding the performance to be over-dramatic. But now years later many of the 'over-dramatic' social changes discussed in the project have started to occur.
In July 1997 the United Kingdom handed over the sovereignty of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China. Since the handover many Hong Kong citizens have become concerned about their future. As the Government becomes more and more authoritative Hong Kong citizens have responded with pro-democratic protests, such as the Umbrella Movement in 2014, or more recently the violent demonstration in Mong Kok earlier this month.
This theatrical performance is set in the year 2017, where one Hong Kong citizen named Jenna Wong (Lam) attempts to win an immigration lottery to gain citizenship to the imaginary country 'United Nation of Hap Asala'. During an interview for the lottery she is required to answer a series of questions to prove that she deserves to win. What is her identity? Is she happy in Hong Kong? And she is not allowed to leave until she answers the questions correctly. Wong's answers give us insight into the struggles of regular Hong Kong citizens as their state changes socially.
Lam's character is comical and fun, with some fantastic one liners that provide some comic relief but also make a point. Her story about the time her house gathering was interrupted by the police because she checked in more than four people on Facebook was particularly amusing. Lam was not always clear in her delivery, but I am certain this will improve as she becomes more accustomed to the acoustics of the theatre.
The Immigration Lottery asks many questions, but, understandably, does not really give us any answers. I left the theatre feeling challenged, pondering what freedom is, what the future will hold for Hong Kong, and what my identity is as an Australian.
If you're interested in having a good laugh, whilst being challenged about concepts of freedom and identity, I would definitely recommend the The Immigration Lottery. The people of Hong Kong are gradually losing their freedom of speech, and Lam is uncertain how long this project will be allowed to continue. I would encourage you to go along and experience the performance for yourself.
The Immigration Lottery will be running until the 20th of February at The Bakehouse Theatre