Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Yellow Face

Perhaps because I recently read The Accidental Asian, Eric Liu's thoughtful collection of autobiographical essays which explore his personal feelings about Asian-American identity, I ran quickly out of patience for David Henry Hwang's rambling but similarly-themed play. Hwang begins by recounting his real-life newsmaking protest of Jonathan Pryce's casting in Miss Saigon: although it's a bit insidery (including a spot-on impression of Cameron Mackintosh and a completely off-the-mark one of Lily Tomlin) it's a good place for Hwang to begin his theatrical conversation. (The play's format has Hwang - as played by Hoon Lee - in direct address mode with the rest of the ensemble called upon to each play a variety of roles.) But immediately after that intriguing start, Hwang presents a not-very-credible fiction in the same true-story confessional format. That quickly killed off my trust, and I spent the rest of the play sifting fact from fiction.

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