Pegeen Mike evokes a blush in Beijing


Two Chinese policemen are due to attend tonight's performance of The Playboy of the Western World in Beijing after a complaint about the short mini-skirt worn by one of the actors.

A woman complained about glimpses of knickers and cleavage after seeing the play which is running at the Beijing Oriental Theatre. Wang Zhaohui, one of the show's producers, said the arts and culture bureau had approved the Chinese version of the play.

"But a young woman came up to me and complained about the shortness of Sha Sha's skirt and said you can see too much of her body - cleavage and a bit of underwear. I think she complained to the authorities. The theatre says there will be two policemen in the audience so we might make her skirt a bit longer."

The play, produced by Ireland's Pan Pan theatre group, uproots the action from Synge's rural west of Ireland early in the last century and relocates Pegeen, Christy Mahon and the others to a hairdressers in the Beijing suburbs in the present day. Instead of shawls, there are boob-tubes.

The scene which has given rise to complaint comes when Chen Junnian as Christy Mahon is forced into disguise in a blonde wig and mini-skirt by the hairdressers.

Sha Sha, who plays the Sarah Tansey figure, has to energetically manoeuvre the tight skirt over Christy's thighs and in the process exposes a certain amount of cleavage and possibly the merest hint of knicker.

China remains a deeply conservative society and immodest displays are still frowned upon.

However, the reaction to the play has been extremely positive. It is due to run until Saturday.