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Edinburgh Fringe 2022

Taiwan Season: Tomato

Chou Kuan Jou

Genre: Dance, Performance Art

Venue: Summerhall


Low Down

Created by the gifted young dancer-choreographer Chou Kuan-Jou for herself and two other performers, not to mention a few ripe and shapely red fruit, Tomato is a cultural experience both playful and provocative. Lust and desire take centre stage in a canny, capricious combination of live performance and live camera documentation. This enticingly tasty work is an absurdly funny expression of Chou’s ongoing interest in gender issues from a feminist perspective. Here private manifestations of sexuality receive a rib-tickling public spin. Ideal fare, then, for anyone curious about seriously tongue-in-cheek, cross-art form exploration.


On the small intimate stage of this theatre what happens in this show is nothing short of impactful. The items on stage are sort of ordinary – a big screen, and a large wire container of – tomatoes! Yet nothing can prepare us for this unusual expressive dance piece of performance art. Tomato is a short piece of thirty minutes choreographed and performed by Chou Kuan-Jou and two other performers.

A tomato is held by one performer and analysed by voiceover narration in search of the ideal tomato, all elements of a tomato are telescoped in on and we are suddenly thinking about all aspects of a tomato in many ways. Chou Kuan-Jou’s clever exploration of this theme has double meaning (at least) and the surface goes deep into her interest in gender issues from a feminist perspective. For example, the skin of a tomato is supple and fresh to the touch, what does this feeling remind you of? Is it a fruit or a vegetable? Are our first impressions always right and what is fake and not?

These philosophical questions are either articulated by narration or evoked in our minds as the piece develops. There are questions and it is up to us to find the answers and that’s an interesting proposition. There may not be answers, only more questions, but what Chou Kuan-Jou puts before us is a feast of thoughts, movement and provocative action that is full of ambiguities in its gestures as she explores this topic thoroughly.

Chou Kuan-Jou’s solo at the beginning of the show is beautifully lyrical and sensual, she has a strong presence and a compelling line across the stage.

There is a wily webcam that becomes prominent and invasive as though it is looking into our private reactions and those of the performers. The webcam is used well to highlight our focus on different people, their features and a tomato or two!

The introduction of technology to the space makes the piece even more intimate and offers up surprises of imagery and concepts that have parallels of allegory and otherworldliness.

Sensuous jazzy music accompany part of this piece, which complements the movement and mood very effectively. Visually and spatially the choreography is fascinating and unexpected. At times this piece is erotic and other times bizarre and always provocative. Vibrant echoed rhythmic beats play to the fibrous textural exploratory movement and exploration of sexuality.

The last part of this piece must be seen in person to get the whole effect. Suffice it to say the piece is absurdly dramatic and comedic, while poking fun at our everyday concepts, reveling in ambiguities and expressing it all through a well crafted combination of words, imagery, irony and movement that effectively imbue this creative sensual and sensory performance.