A Tale of Two Cities – Hong Kong

Sarah Llewellyn’s haunting vocal score, sung by the cast at intervals throughout the narrative, gives the sense of powerful forces at work – love, revenge, and civil unrest – unstoppably driving events down a devastating path

Simon Fearn for Litro Magazine

A Tale of Two Cities 2023. Hong Kong Cultural Centre

Sarah worked with Chung Ying Theatre for a month in spring 2023 as composer and music director. Following it’s hugely successful run at Hong Kong’s Cultural centre this year plans are underway for a tour to China in 2024.

In tech, photo by Neil Irish

Listen to music from the show

Sarah says...

It was a fantastic opportunity to revisit Hong Kong with this adaptation by Jonathan Holloway, translated into Cantonese by Dominic Chung. The talented cast were extremely dedicated and a joy to work with. It was a luxury to have so much time in rehearsals to develop the music and vocal material and the emotional intensity of the performance blew me away.

The music combines live on stage vocals, with a rich electro-acoustic score; harp, piano, bass, colourful  percussion and features violin and musical saw recorded with Francesca Simmons.

The soundscapes are layered with recorded strings, spoken word, percussion and real sounds. Sometimes harsh and brittle, sometimes soft and mysterious incorporating echos and reverb effects.

sounds of broken hearts resound in the amphitheatre. Music is integral in this adaptation. Sarah Llewellyn has created a electric-acoustic score with distinctive music helping to illustrate the passing of time and the journeys within the play. It is soft and captivating. The actors themselves performing the vocal chorus on the edges of the stage.

Jutine Denning for hkELD

The scene changes via singing chorus and the sound design (credit to Sarah Llewellyn) were absolutely mesmerising. Enhancing the ensemble energy, it was excellently paced and was an exercise in aural spaces, filling the theatre with ominous feeling and anticipation…..the captivating story that leaves you with a hauntingly bittersweet echo of romance and tragedy.

Joe Optimistik

Voices echo from the back of the stage, haunting music punctuates the action and subtly changing lighting takes us to dark places

4 * Stephen Bates for thereviewshub


Original Author: Charles Dickens
Adaptation & Lighting: Jonathan Holloway
Translator and Director: Dominic Chung

Music, Sound Design, MD: Sarah Llewellyn

Design: Neil Irish

Cast: Zhang Kejian, Bai Qingying, Liu Zhongxuan, Chen Linxin, Yin Pucheng, Su Zhenwei, Ruan Hanxiang

Produced by Chung Ying Theatre

Fond farewell to cast..Sarah and Neil's final night in Hong Kong
Overlapping language links together like a constant song. Voices rest atop dramatic violins and dialogue builds up into a haunting refrain sung pitch perfect by the actors, in between scenes to indicate the passing of time

Jessica Baxter (Edfringe)

Originally performed in English by a UK based cast in Hong Kong and at the Edinburgh Fringe 2016. More about that production here

Sarah in tech rehearsals
Sarah and Neil and Gladys Wong first night
Production image