Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, October 27, 2011


If anyone had told me a year ago that I'd be going to see a play half in Chinese on Broadway I might have fallen off my chair laughing.  Broadway doesn't do foreign language plays, does it?  Well hold onto your egg rolls Mr. Goldstone - Ch'inglish is now on Broadway!  And what a feast of comedy it turns out to be.  
David Henry Hwang has written another East meets West opus.  This time it's funnier than a fortune cookie and packed with great American and Chinese actors turning in top-notch performances.  Half of the play is in Chinese with subtitles boldly displayed above the action for all to read - and laugh over.  The play is mainly concerned with the mis-interpretations between English and Chinese, but also indirectly and delicately pokes fun at the stereotypes in both the American and Chinese cultures.

While the story could certainly use a haircut upwards of 20 minutes, Mr. Hwang has given us what I believe is groundbreaking.  While the main character, Daniel Cavanaugh (Gary Wilmes)  is a full-blooded American and his consultant is a British speaking immigrant to China (Stephen Pucci), we are treated to some magnificently entertaining and witty character acting by full-bodied Chinese actors who speak almost entirely in Chinese the entire evening - Johnny Wu (Bing), Christine Lin (Miss Zhao), Angela Lin (Miss Qian), and Larry Lei Zhang (Minister Cai Guoliang).  Taking the lead opposite Mr. Wilmes is the marvelously complex and incredibly funny Jennifer Lim as Xi Yan.

No matter what you think of the play - there is no doubt you will find the clean, modern, rapidly rotating sets by David Korins quite possibly the best on Broadway today!

On the surface we laugh at all the mis-translactions, both spoken and in writing - but lurking underneath Mr. Hwang has given us a rich study not only in linguistics, but culture, motivation, and love.