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Incident at Hidden Temple

From 10 critic and 15 member reviews
Members say: Disappointing, Absorbing, Ambitious, Relevant, Slow

About the show

Pan Asian Rep presents the world premiere of Damon Chua's historical fiction noir set in China during World War II. More…

'Incident at Hidden Temple' focuses on China 1943 with the historic US Flying Tigers squadron and the presence of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. The play spotlights the critical role played by American pilots in China during WWII, and hinges upon three Chinese women who cross paths unwittingly on a secret quest.

Theater Pizzazz

“Wartime drama in ‘Incident at Hidden Temple’ is as compelling as it gets. As the landscape shifts from a village fable to a convincing military drama, director Kaipo Schwab skillfully coordinates interrogation of a larger truth…The play, filled with memorable characters, is something of a winding path constructed by playwright Damon Chua...Ava is portrayed adeptly by the Ying Ying Li.” Full Review

Front Row Center

“An evocative reminder of a pivotal piece of World War II history…Act One does a good job in setting up the multiple conflicts and questions. While Act Two has resonant moments, it isn’t as strong, relying on some unlikely coincidences and encounters. Ultimately, though the story's questions are answered (except the biggest one, which the playwright leaves to the audience), there’s almost too much to bring together smoothly. The staging and the acting overall are excellent.” Full Review

Edge New York

"Offers insight into the fascinating political drama of that moment…But while the setting and the historical situation at the center of the play are indeed very interesting, Chua's writing is uneven. The dialogue is sometimes stilted, there are plot developments that feel very unrealistic, and the resolutions of the various mysteries come off as a bit clumsy. ‘Hidden Temple’ certainly has a great deal going for it, but could use some rewriting to better do justice to its promising story." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Chua is a dab hand at spoofing the melodramatic conceits of film noir, but he hasn’t settled whether 'Hidden Temple' should be a movie pastiche, an old-fashioned whodunit, supernatural puzzler, political drama, clash of western pragmatism and eastern spirituality, or a whimsical romance...Many scenes in 'Hidden Temple' are engaging, but, as a whole, the script has the half-baked quality of a project at the workshop stage...Much of the acting is wooden, and the direction largely static." Full Review


"'Incident at Hidden Temple' is suggestive of many different ideas pertaining to allegiance, cooperation and strategy, but unfortunately the obscure and fictional story lines are worn thin and far too overstretched by the play's final curtain. Whether an indication of a flawed script beyond repair, or a lack of thoughtful direction by director Kaipo Schwab, many performances are over embellished, exaggerated, and hardly resemblant to any sympathetic or even likable characters." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"All the technical elements are well done. The play by Damon Chua keeps your interest, though it could use some cutting. The direction by Kaipo Schwab is serviceable and gets the points across, but how could he have not heard the timber of the actors voices?...Ms. Ma, Mr. Dolan and Mr. Liu far much better than the rest of this cast, who seriously need acting lessons." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Chua...focuses only intermittently on the complex military-historical issues...Instead, he diffuses his treatment by introducing various melodramatic mysteries...An air of superficiality hovers not only over the writing but over the entire, stilted production...Director Kaipo Schwab's pacing for the two-hour play is uneven and his staging awkward, beginning with the thoroughly unconvincing stabbing that begins the play...As for the acting, let's just say better luck next time." Full Review


"The piece has the potential to use the lessons of the past to illuminate the present — an objective never fully realized in this half-hearted attempt at noir...Knockoff Nancy Drew meets Indiana Jones: a suspense-free murder mystery that transforms into an inexplicable treasure hunt. To his credit, director Schwab faithfully stages the misguided script...A combination of wooden acting and an aimless script make 'Incident at Hidden Temple' an unmemorable night at the theater." Full Review

The New York Times

"In addition to mood, noir is famous for labyrinthine plots, but the one here is just muddled...Chua is less interested in historical facts than in genre tropes...Alas, he did not stop at thriller and also went for melodrama, romance, spy mystery, political yarn and supernatural fable...A lot happens over the course of two hours, including a plot development reminiscent of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' but with a Buddhist artifact. Yet what dominate are lengthy exposition and stilted dialogue." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"A better title for ‘Incident at Hidden Temple’ might be ‘Nancy Drew Goes to War-Torn China’…Throughout, Ava is presented as being both clueless and insanely accomplished; she is as muddled as the play that contains her…Even the lowest-budget B melodrama was better constructed than this...Under the circumstances, it's difficult to know what actors could do, so it probably signifies very little that the entire company gives such wooden performances.” Full Review

Ambitious, Great staging, Riveting, Great acting, Great writing

See it if You like a well written mystery thriller with good "noir" atmosphere via chiaroscuro lighting. You like factual historical background of WW2

Don't see it if You're not interested in a chapter of WWII history involving US-Sino relations and the heroic Flying Tigers. You will be missing out!

Also Absolutely wonderful script with stellar acting and factual background... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Entertaining, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Cliched

See it if rich story with interesting historical background. Very cinematic with scenes that build a sense of mystery.

Don't see it if Intriguing mystery doesn't deliver an dramatically intense conclusion. A little unfocused and bland along the way.

Absorbing, Relevant, Great staging, Edgy, Dated

See it if Asian people History buffs Political junkies

Don't see it if You are looking for a light-hearted show

Also Great and interesting set... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Relevant, Absorbing, Resonant, Unresolved

See it if You're up for an honest if stilted attempt to throw some light on a moment of Sino-American history that sadly still affects us today.

Don't see it if You're expecting real noir or a sharply focused script with a full and final resolution. Interesting questions are raised but not the point.

Also Despite some smooth directing by Kaipo Schwab & mostly convincing perf... Read more Read less

Great lighting, Ambitious, Disappointing

See it if want to support the arts; enjoy a different glimpse into WWII, the Flying Tigers, Chinese leaders, references to Hemingway, Hidden Temple...

Don't see it if you are looking for a polished production with a well developed plot.

Also The lighting combined with the stage setting was impressive, especiall... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Actors are stilted and the pacing is slow, Good lighting and set, The play is not boring, but not altogether engaging either.

See it if You're interested in a historical fiction and might find a political WW2 drama with murder and romance subplots intriguing.

Don't see it if Want something really well-acted, a plot that doesn't meander/have holes, aren't interested at all in Chinese culture or characterizations.

Disappointing, Confusing, Slow, Ambitious, Relevant

See it if you are interested in Chinese-American history. However, there are too many sub plots which do not strengthen the script.

Don't see it if you want good dialogue and acting. The script needs polish. Except for the blind man and the secretary the acting is rudimentary.

Ambitious, Disappointing, Thought-provoking, Slow, Would-be mystery

See it if you wish to support new productions.

Don't see it if you're looking for great theatre.

Confusing, Disappointing, Excruciating, Insipid, Banal

See it if You liked the ideas behind The Producers and Spinal Tap

Don't see it if You're not prepared for unintentional laughs at how poorly a play can be written.

Also This play has re-write written all over it. How someone made the decis... Read more Read less

Profound, Intelligent, Epic, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if It’s a good way to go back in history and reflect.

Don't see it if You don’t like history.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Absorbing, Refreshing

See it if you want to know more about the historical context of the Flying Tigers in China & the tension of the US & Nationalists & the communists.

Don't see it if you don't like history and want to see highly polished set design.

Mysterious, Exquisite, Absorbing, Clever

See it if You want to get swept into a mystery-drama involving the US pilots of Flying Tigers squadron. A nice blend of history, mystery and romance.

Don't see it if You're not into a play set in WWII China with mysterious happenings.

During previews
Intelligent, Riveting, Slow, Confusing, Entertaining

See it if you can enjoy a piece of theater that is interesting and endearing but is lacking in continuity and has some pretty major holes in the plot.

Don't see it if you need your shows to conclude neatly and answer all your questions.

During previews
Intelligent, Relevant, Disappointing, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if you are interested in history and don't mind being a bit bored with a strange plot line which gets a bit muddled.

Don't see it if you like professional productions which entertain and enlighten without getting muddled.

During previews
Clever, Enchanting, Absorbing, Compelling mystery!

See it if You enjoy a clever, compelling mystery - it had me absorbed from the get-go. Loved the added dash of romance, politics and WWII intrigue.

Don't see it if You don't like an interwoven tale that combines murder, romance and politics.

Cast & Creatives (14)