The Chinese Lady
The Chinese Lady
83

The Chinese Lady NYC Reviews and Tickets

83%
(22 Reviews)
Positive
95%
Mixed
5%
Negative
0%
Members say
Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great acting, Clever, Quirky

About the Show

Inspired by the true story of the first Chinese female to step foot in America, Ma-Yi's production is a tale of dark poetic whimsy and a unique portrait of the United States as seen through the eyes of a young Chinese woman.

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Member Reviews (22)

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75
Slow, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Clever, Strong acting

See it if you like history-based plays th illuminate prejud in USA. 1st Ch lady on US soil (14yo in 1834); was displayed to paying crowds. Two chars.

Don't see it if you want action. Sedentary staging. Repetitive structure. Insightful re: bias, cultural norms, mistreatmt of "other." Packs a punch.

79
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Slow, Relevant, Quirky

See it if Suh's potent drama/fantasia about events in one woman's immigration to 1850's America Based in fact, it's power subtly creeps up on you

Don't see it if Despite being well acted & staged drama slowly grows static through a repetitive framing devise Didactic ending stilted but still powerful

Critic Reviews (19)

The New York Times
November 15th, 2018

"This quiet play steadily deepens in complexity as we trail the idealistic Afong and the more knowing Atung through the decades...Ms. Tyo and Mr. Isaac have gorgeous chemistry, and with their rapport they cast a spell that Fabian Obispo’s music and Oliver Wason’s lighting unobtrusively fortify...It is both practical and kind that Mr. Suh has softened his script with humor...By the end of Mr. Suh’s extraordinary play, we look at Afong and see whole centuries of American history."
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Time Out New York
November 15th, 2018

"Suh’s version of Afong Moy is wonderful...Tyo is a performer of pure charisma, and she and Isaac enjoy a hilarious, spiky byplay...Suh keeps slipping a knife in. Afong Moy holds one belief absolutely sacred: that her audiences are making an empathic leap when they watch her...Provocatively, Suh has built a critique of 'looking' itself into the play’s bones. All those people watched her for all those decades, and now here we are, watching some more. What an uneasy thought."
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Lighting & Sound America
November 13th, 2018

"Tyo invests Afong with a natural authority that keeps one interested in her fate...But there's little that she can do to enliven the longueurs of the script...For all the considerable fascination of its central character, ‘The Chinese Lady’ ultimately disappoints: Having established Afong's daily routine, it basically repeats itself, substituting commentary -- which is, admittedly, frequently pointed and witty -- for meaningful conflict.”
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Theater Pizzazz
November 13th, 2018

“Pena, directs this even, thoughtful production...As ‘The Chinese Lady’ explains her life story, and the acting style varies from presentational to dramatic to naturalistic...The acting loses a bit of its punch, when it is so every day...It is incredibly moving to see her progress in age...From a woman who bound her feet to a determined, poised, clear storyteller, she traveled through time and space, not just to put herself on display, as much explain her world.”
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CurtainUp
November 10th, 2018

"This engaging play...is unusual in construction and subject matter...Ralph B. Pena's direction, reminiscent of a stylized Chinese opera, creates a subtle tension through dramatic minimalistic movements...It intensifies the inner emotions of the actors and adds texture and nuanced meaning to their dialogue and actions...Suh and his cast and production colleagues have reconstructed a riveting and poetic 90-minute world premiere of historic interest and pointed political observations."
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Front Row Center
November 12th, 2018

“While ‘The Chinese Lady’ deals with the tragic aftermath of Chinese Exclusion Act, it is also humorous, clever and entertaining, which is the victory of the play...I was so invested in Atong and Afong Moy’s journey that I was left wanting to hear more about their lives...Both Tyo and Isaac are amazing...They steal your heart with their innocence and portrayal of two extraordinary human beings...The writing is engaging. Peña’s direction is superb."
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Exeunt Magazine
November 12th, 2018

“A fascinating historical look at Asians in America through the eyes of the first Chinese woman to come here...We see her from age 14 to 82...She becomes less Afong Moy and more a voice for the Chinese in America...While the historical context is interesting, the intersection with Moy does not deliver as much of an emotional payoff...While the play can feel in moments didactic, it churns up deeply felt issues of immigration and cultural identity which go far beyond one 'Chinese Lady.'"
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New York Theater
November 10th, 2018

"An often amusing but pointed and instructive play that is as deceptively simple as calligraphy. Its bold strokes are masterfully etched by actors Shannon Tyo as Afong and Daniel K. Isaac as Atung, her interpreter...Under the direction of Ralph B. Peña, 'The Chinese Lady' manages to achieve something of a balance, delivering the harsh facts in a production that maintains its lyricism, thanks largely to the terrific design team."
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StageBiz.com
November 12th, 2018

“One of the most original, thought-provoking and necessary works I have ever seen. It is a production that excels on every single level – text, direction, performance and design. I am still haunted by the brilliance of the insights, the emotionality unleashed in the spaces between words and the visual sumptuousness of its execution...Director Ralph B. Peña is a genius. You can see his steady hand in every crafted and highly detailed moment. Tyo as Afong Moy is simply astonishing."
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I
November 11th, 2018

“Suh’s stylized play is mesmerizing, and unsettlingly timely. In a quiet succession of poetic, meta-theatrical scenes, we see Afong evolve from a naive 14-year-old girl to an elderly 90 year-old woman...Her mounting anxiety and self-realization of her situation as well as her love/hate relationship with her translator Atung, surprisingly make for rich, compelling theater. ‘The Chinese Lady’ is an important new play that sheds light on a painful slice of American history."
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New York Theatre Review
November 18th, 2018

“Thrilling, hilarious, and vibrant...Suh Moy's story provides the perfect springboard to explore the history of the Chinese in America and the ways in which we have not come nearly as far as we think...Suh’s play is wildly funny as he gleefully lampoons the fetishization that Moy is subjected to...A sumptuous, meticulously crafted production that sings with beauty and pierces with incisive wit...Tyo gives master-class performance as Moy.”
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History News Network
November 11th, 2018

“The history in the play is considerable and very detailed, sometimes chilling. It is a disturbing history and one that Americans ignored...The two actors in the play are really impressive. Tyo is superb...You have to admire the play’s director, Ralph B. Pena. It is hard to keep a two-character play interesting but he does, constantly rushing from year to year and scene to scene and keeping Atung and ‘the Chinese Lady’ interactive through most of the play.”
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8asians
November 13th, 2018

“Towards the end, the play casts its audience through Chinese American immigration history via Afong...before jumping to the present. This is an important lineage, but I felt this contemporary jump...a bit didactic. Still, Suh’s play seeks to dive into and through our constant conversations about identity and cross-cultural understanding and belonging and otherness, all the while weaving in our collective past. And that makes it worthwhile.”
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Berkshire Edge
July 31st, 2018
For a previous production

"Playwright Lloyd Suh...confronts a potential wealth of storylines to dramatize what very little is known about the real-life Afong, but the effect ends up more intellectual than emotional...Through Afong, Suh muses about the philosophic nature of history, cultural appropriation, and similar serious topics...One wonders if the play would have more emotional resonance if Afong’s story was personalized more and politicized less...Peña directs cleanly and straightforwardly."
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Manchester Journal
July 26th, 2018
For a previous production

"'The Chinese Lady' charges toward its if-you-haven't-gotten-it-by-now-here's-the-message conclusion that seeks hope in a culture that is unforgiving and cruel. The performances are acceptable; the style a subtle mix of Chinese theater and movement and Western style but the production grows tedious and loses novelty as it moves along its intermissionless 80 or so minutes."
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T
July 26th, 2018
For a previous production

"This play is unlike any you've seen...An exceptionally engaging world premiere...Suh explores Moy's story in an unusual, intellectually bracing way that explodes theater conventions...We are helped to understand people and occurrences that are distant from us, whether that distance is a result of time or culture or both...Poetic in its language, illuminating in its history, directed with a clear eye and strong conception."
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Berkshire Edge
July 26th, 2018
For a previous production

"Thanks to two of the most beautiful actors, the results are captivating...Director Ralph G. Peña has given the play a wonderful, self-contained world of life and movement. At times it is almost too stylized...But still, it is the delicacy he has allotted to his actors that makes them ring so very true...His control over the script and its necessary actions is remarkable..I do believe that this is one play that will develop a life, best seen with these two actors and this director staging it."
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Berkshire On Stage
July 27th, 2018
For a previous production

"Director Ralph B. Pena...moves his actors gracefully with no wasted movement or time. The slow evolution of the two characters relationship demands our empathy especially with the knowledge that they are worlds apart...'The Chinese Lady' is a warm delicate play, probably unlike anything you’ve seen before. It will touch your heart, fill your mind and have you remembering this brave woman who learns about life in a world that does not accept her."
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T
July 27th, 2018
For a previous production

"The script’s self-conscious disconnect between realism and what is a kind of magic show...Atung and Moy have a lot to say about American history and culture — acutely informed by the playwright’s 21st century sensibility and identity politics. The play has been in development for several years, but it resonates more powerfully since the 2016 election...I left the theater feeling that this script needed more work, but was pleased to have been introduced to Afong Moy and Atung."
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