Takeaway English 随身英语
Journey to the West 西游记
An image of The Monkey King in action in the BBC's Olympic title sequence
The Monkey King battles monsters in the BBC's Olympic title sequence
What do you get when you combine a 16th century work of Chinese literature, a renowned Chinese theatre director and a British rock star?

The result is Monkey: Journey to the West, a show which blends acrobatics, music, animation and martial arts to tell the story of Sun Wukong and his travelling companions on their journey of redemption.

Performed in Mandarin to sell-out crowds in London's Royal Opera House last week, the show is a stage adaptation of the famous Chinese novel Journey to the West.

"An unclassifiable extravaganza" was how The Guardian described the show, while another reviewer said it was a performance that "left no genre untouched and whose scale of ambition could only be marvelled at."

Indeed, for director Chen Shi-zheng, bringing the wildly imaginative Chinese tale to a 21st century Western audience was a creative challenge that allowed him and his team to mix together a wide range of influences.

The score was composed by British musician Damon Albarn, lead singer of Blur and co-creator of the virtual cartoon band Gorillaz. It is played by an orchestra that uses both Western instruments and the traditional Chinese pipa, guzheng and zhongruan.

Another aspect which makes this show stand out is the use of animation, which is projected onto a large screen behind the stage. Director Chen said "the integration of animation and sound was really a work of genius."

The Monkey King, as Sun Wukong is known in English, as well as Pigsy, Sandy and a host of other characters and monsters are brought to life by 40 acrobats from the Dalian circus troupe.

Even though The Monkey King is less well-known outside North-East Asia, many British people fondly remember a cult 1970s TV series called Monkey.

And this isn't the last British people will be seeing of The Monkey King this summer.

The team behind the stage show have produced an animated title sequence for the BBC's Olympic coverage which shows Monkey and his friends battling monsters on their way to Beijing's Olympic Stadium.

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