Review: The World of Extreme Happiness

Article By Alison Ng

The World of Extreme Happiness viciously thrusts the audience into the life of Sunny Li (Jennifer Lim), an unwanted-child-now-factory-worker, who faces her bleak life with blunt comments and satirical humor.

The play begins with Sunny’s birth in 1992, during China’s one-child policy where couples did anything to have a male child. Sunny’s parents intend to kill her, but her father decides to spare her when he sees his daughter smile. Flash-forward 18 years later and Sunny is no longer the happy newborn. She has grown up to slave away at a factory in Shenzhen in order to provide for her father and more importantly, send her little brother Pete (Telly Leung), to school.

In the midst of figuring out a way to achieve a higher position, Sunny meets Ming-Ming (Jo Mei), a fellow worker who has set large goals for herself as a result of taking a self-help class that coaches perspective and achievement. Sunny, amazed at Ming-Ming’s attitude, joins the class, and also changes her own mindset about her current situation and future objective.

As Sunny’s viewpoint transforms and wills her to do anything to achieve her goals, she becomes aware of the political unrest and never-ending suffering that surrounds her. This in turn, puts her in the position of fending for herself, or using her newfound confidence to fight against the odds.

Drastically compelling and achingly realistic, The World of Extreme Happiness left me speechless. It weaves together different aspects, such as the One-Child Policy and the story of the Monkey King, in order to shape the characters’ lives and more importantly, relate actual living conditions and circumstances. Cowhig’s words, paired with fantastic actors, makes for a wonderful play that leaves you deliberating long after the curtain closes.

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