The Tale of Monkey His Magic Journey to the West

[Did you go to the show? If you did, please let me know what you thought of it using the Monkey Feedback page!]

See the bottom of the page for reviews of the show!

Click on the picture below to see a larger version of it:
Promotional postcard for The Tale of Monkey His Magic Journey to the West show at Brisbane Festival 2002

In the 2002 Brisbane Festival in September, there was a live production of Monkey, running between Monday 9 September 2002 and Saturday 28 September 2002. The show was presented at Bamboo Grove, New Farm Park (adjacent to Brisbane Powerhouse).

For full information about the show, go to the "The Tale of Monkey His Magic Journey to the West" page:
1) Go to the main page of the Brisbane Festival web site:
2) Click on the EVENTS link at the top.
3) Scroll down to the DRAMA / THEATRE section.
4) Click on "The Tale of Monkey His Magic Journey to the West".

Here's some excerpts from the above page, which describe the show:

ENERGEX Brisbane Festival presents a Grin & Tonic Theatre Troupe production


Bryan Nason's re-telling of the ancient Chinese classic Hsi-yu chi Journey to the West attributed to Wu Ch'eng-en

Grin & Tonic, well-known for their brilliant outdoor performances, present a thrilling re-telling of the famous 16th century Chinese epic Hsi-yu chi, better known as Monkey.

The tale of the roguish Monkey and his exploits on a fabulous journey to India is one of the most popular classics in Asian literature, and because of the 80s TV show, is now a cult classic. Be there in the specially created Bamboo Grove as the brave and resourceful Monkey, the real hero of the fantasy, escorts Buddhist monk, Tripitaka, pig monster Pigsy, and water monster Sandy, on their perilous mission in search of sacred scriptures. Throughout their divine quest they encounter demons, spirits, dragons and gods on a riotous road trip to enlightenment. Strongly percussive music drives the production, while the mischievous hero and cast of fantastically colourful characters dazzle with their energetic acrobatic skill. Magical and enchanting, the journey is one of spiritual growth spiced with humour, larger than life characters and spectacular fights.

Let Monkey leap into your life!

Bryan Nason

Donald Hall

Jason Organ

Alison Ross and Gayle MacGregor

Donald Hall and Roland Adeney

Gavin Robins

Scott Witt

Roland Adeney, Daniel Alder, Larisa Chen, Mark Conaghan, Zoe de Plevitz, Carita Farrer, Donald Hall, Nathan Kotzur, Ivan Matula, Veronica Neave, Nicola-Jaye Price, Ross Smith, Hayden Spencer and James Stewart as MONKEY

Reviews / articles

Newspaper article

As part of the promotion for the Monkey show, the Brisbane Courier-Mail newspaper ran a Monkey story in Saturday 7 September 2002 edition. This story included excerpts from an interview with me that I did with the newspaper over email on 3 September!

In addition to having appeared in the printed edition, the story also appeared on the Courier-Mail web site, and can now be purchased from the Newstext web site (I'm not sure how you can find it though!?):

Review 1

Here's a review of the Monkey show, sent to me by Monkey fan Andrew Waddell:

"Well, we went to Monkey last night and it was fantastic. The writer/director Bryan Nayson did a wonderful job bringing the story to the stage. He managed to tell the entire story from Monkeys birth from a stone egg to the award of titles from Buddha when they finally reached India.

Some interesting points (some spoliers for those who may be going to see it):

* Monkey / Sandy / Pigsy were perfectly in character both for the story and those of us who have see the tv show.

* Some dialog was taken directly from the tv show but the story was not reliant on or based on the tv show - Bryan actually told us after the show that it was based on the full (three volume) translation of the original story.

* The story of how Monkey obtained his magic powers and enlighenment from the Patriach Subodi is told in the play (This was not in the TV show)

* The cloud flying was excellently done ! Using a long see-saw, stage crew and lighting effects, Monkey was able to rise high in the air when cloud flying..... He did do the two finger thing to "call" his cloud (the audience LOVED that!)

* Horse was wonderful - played by a guy in a long hair wig and harness - he ACTUALLY carried Tripitaka around

* Tripitaka and Buddha were played by women - Buddha's voice was effect altered when she spoke and sounded almost exactly like the tv version.

* There was lots of fighting scenes , Sandy was very philosophical and Pigsy was lustful and greedy.

* Monkey copped the Headache sutra a few times "Yatatatata I DONT LIKE IT!!!!"

* After the show the audience was invited to stay and talk to the writer/director. He was asked directly about the relationship between his production and the TV show and said that initially he was inspired by the written story... The tv show elements in the production were to provide a link for those who had seen that version.

The music was done by a live band using a mix of traditional Chinese / Indian instruments and modern synthesizers. The music was not from the Tv show but was original and complemented the show very well. They did use their percussion section to provide sound effects for the fight scenes and to enhance the "magic" effects like Monkey cloud flying and his "hair into army of monkeys" trick

All said, - we loved it, and though the production was well designed and told the story very well. The acting was excellent (and very athletic). A great night!!"

Review 2

Here's another review of the Monkey show, sent to me by Monkey fan David Dynes:

"Cecily & I came from Byron Shire to see Monkey, as we've been fans since seeing NHK's Monkey TV series on ABC. Delighted with your presentation - wonderful acrobatics, music, lighting, costumes straight from the TV series, casting - such a wonderful production of this dear old classic. I've studied Arthur Waley's "The Real Tripitaka" - an inspiring biography, and have given talks on it. Good work, Grin & Tonic!"

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