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The Pilgrimage of the Heart

Commissioned by Grants for the Arts, The Arts Council of England in 2008, the Pilgrimage of the Heart had a three week run in London and showed in West Wing Arts Centre in Slough.


Shanghai, summer 1935, an outwardly normal happy family is trapped in a dark web of hidden desire which threatens to destroy them.  Fengyi Xu and his twenty year old daughter feel a love for each other that pushes the boundaries of father daughter love to its limits. As their relationship threatens to spill over into forbidden territory, the mother is faced with the dilemma of ignoring it and letting the family fall to pieces or confront the unknown.

This play is adapted from the Lust, Caution Shanghainese writer, Eileen Zhang, and tells a gripping yet compassionate tale of a taboo love in pre-communist China.


The play is set in the glamorous cosmopolitan Shanghai of the thirties, a time when the sophisticated Shanghainese adored the West but remained resolutely Chinese at heart. 


In exploring this hidden recess of the Chinese soul, Zhang delicately manages to peel back ancient layers of repression to give us a subversive masterpiece that will be as powerful and challenging on stage as it is on paper.


The Pilgrimage of the Heart, 2008

Three week run in London and showed in West Wing Arts Centre Slough



The British Theatre Guide


“Fast moving”

“There is a calm intensity about Tina Chiang’s mother, occasionally revealing an undercurrent of unhappiness and resentment that makes the shock of her discovery effective”


Time Out


“Zhang’s disturbing story remains a truly wondrous discovery”

“Zhang plants ample and horribly credible psychological germs for the diseased family portrait she paints”

“Tina Chiang as the beleaguered Chinese wife brings the difficult admixture of complicity and disbelief convincingly to the stage”


Camden New Journal


“Shan Ng’s production engages throughout its 75 minutes.  All three actors communicate their tortured feelings with conviction on the small Etcetera stage, which is evocatively dressed and illuminated with a backdrop of small lights shining, dimly, through a translucent blue and gold screen.”


Dim Sum (the British Chinese community website)


“Shan Ng's well-directed adaptation…”


“This production will leave audiences begging for more of Eileen Zhang’s mesmerizing dramas.”


Readers’ comments to Time Out


“The tension that built up throughout the play really came across well in the intimacy of Etcetera.” – Graham – visiting from Hong Kong

“Really well written and some intense acting” – Dale

“A little gem hidden away in the black box of the Etcetera Theatre”  - Derek

“A great vignette” – Andrew M. O’Brien

“Bravo” – Joe Wong

“Very strong acting all round” – Jeremy Tiang


4.5 stars reader rating              


Ruby Joseph from Grenada, Caribbean


“Shan Ng’s production is engaging”

“All three actors communicate emotion deeply in an intimate theatre”

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