This visually stunning collaboration between Robert Lepage, artistic director of Ex Machina (a Canadian multidisciplinary theatrical production company), actor Marie Michaud, and illustrator Fred Jourdain brings the stage production of the same name alive on the printed page. The story, set in contemporary Shanghai, entangles the three protagonists in an emotional web that offers three possible outcomes to the reader. Pierre, a Quebecois art dealer living in Shanghai, is visited by his ex-wife, Claire, who is in the process of adopting a Chinese baby. The third member of the triangle, Xiao Ling, is an artist who is befriended by Claire but has also been having an affair with Pierre and is pregnant with his child.
The story, brought to life with dramatic and, in many instances raw, brushstrokes on oversize pages and panels in mostly sepia tones interspersed with splashes of colour, is cinematic in approach and scope. The human characters are realistic in their appearance, dialogue, and emotional responses while the city, another major character, is equally vibrant and alive. The themes of cultural confusion, creativity– artistic and reproductive, and aging are effectively explored by both the writing and the illustrations, melding into a very satisfying read that offers the reader a conclusion that fits their needs.