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. More…
Afong Moy reflects on life in 1834 and beyond, as she is brought to the United States from China and put on display for the American public as “The Chinese Lady.”
"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." Full Review
"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." Full Review
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." Full Review
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." Full Review
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." Full Review
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." Full Review
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." Full Review
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." Full Review
See it if Great acting, colorful staging, a misunderstood culture, immigration, and complex issues about expectations. Good production values.
Don't see it if The the work was still in progress when I saw it, re-writes currently being addressed.
See it if you're interested in how white America perceived & treated Chinese people in 19th century, & the toll it took on the Chinese.
Don't see it if you do not have a tolerance for long stretches of direct address in the theater.
See it if fan of writer Lloyd Suh, want to encourage Asian-American writers & performers, learn about history of Asian folk in sideshows, clever set
Don't see it if don't like idea of people put into sideshows, time jumping plots, 2-character plays with one gone for most of play,
See it if you like good acting. Good costumes and set. If you like historical immigrant stories.
Don't see it if if you don't like plays where there isn't a lot of movement on stage. Where the story is repetitive.
See it if You'll permit a story as old as the wind, as old as the rain to deliver new truth to your heart.
Don't see it if See it now because it has a very limited run through 11/18.
See it if you want an interesting history lesson in a cleverly conveyed format. Gives an understanding of Chinese culture and US immigration history.
Don't see it if you don't like a "Groundhog Day" style format, don't like two-handers, or have no interest in history or the subject matter.
See it if you wish Suzan-Lori Parks’ Venus had a clearer message on imperialism & objectification; found The Greatest Showman disingenuous
Don't see it if you thought Venus was crystal clear/kind of passé; if Greatest Showman’s cheery msg of acceptance still outperforms a grim history lecture
See it if You want thoughtful relevant theater. S. Tyo charms in a demanding role, but Daniel Issac's elegant, puissant performance is the cornerstone
Don't see it if You are not willing to sit through 90 minutes of thought provoking theater and history
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