Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review- Yellow Face- Hong Kong Players

Tonight I braved the rain and hopped down to Sheung Wan to see Hong Kong Players opening night of Yellow Face by Asian American playwright, David Henry Hwang. Yellow Face talks about race and identity issues of what it is like to be an Asian American. It talks about the act of a white performers pretending to be Asian for a role ala Rex Harrison in The King and I or Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's. One of the pivotal jumping points of the script is the Miss Saigon casting scandal in the 1990's. All American theatre students are subjected to hearing long tedious lectures in college about this scandal. Hwang took both real life experience and fictionalized characters and blended them together into the world of Yellow Face. It is not a "ha ha" comedy but an intellectual one. You will have to sit in the theatre and think for two and half hours. This might not be the best show to come to rip roaring drunk. It's not that kind of show, and it is LONG, eat before hand!

Overall I thought the show was good. I enjoyed the dynamics of the cast and it's always enjoyable to see new faces and multicultural casts in Hong Kong. The highlight of the cast HANDS DOWN was Lester Clark. I have never seen him in anything before and I definitely will be attending his next show because he has excellent comedic timing, was very committed in all his characters and was incredibly funny. I particularly loved his Cameron Macintosh. I thought one very funny moment of the show was Rye Bautista as Rodney exercising and getting the phone call. It was very true to life when we get a call back about an audition. You know we all do the little freak out dance! (At least we did before Skype interviews were invented...)

It was a good opening night but you could tell there were a bit of nerves amongst the cast. Pacing seemed a bit off and people were taking breaths in the middle of sentences in odd places. Leah and David's scene in Act 2 seemed to have issues. I had trouble believing the moment, I just suggest to the actors to relax and let the words flow. The pacing seemed off. I give serious credit to the actors to staying visible on stage for the entire show and for trying to do all those accents. Sure, some of them were not the best but you tried!
Actors Keon Lee and Alan M tackle racial stereotypes with class and comedy!

I thought the biggest issue with the show had nothing to do with the wonderful performances but with the set. All of the scenery was set in the back of the stage and there was this huge open space in the down stage. Crosses and any moves to the down stage felt un-motivated. Simply moving everything down 3 or 4 feet downstage would help immensely with improving the crosses, with helping the audience see everything better and with helping us hear better. It wouldn't block anything and it would make the crosses to the voms more natural. I completely understood why everything was where it was but I think it hindered the blocking more than it helped.

Overall, a good show! There are tickets still available. If you are an Asian actor it is definitely one to see! It's a very smart show- more scripts like this should make appearances in our fair city. We need more shows that the Chinese and English speaking communities can work on together!


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