The Chinese Lady
The Chinese Lady

The Chinese Lady NYC Reviews and Tickets

(24 Reviews)
Members say
Thought-provoking, Relevant, 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 (24)

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963 Reviews | 338 Followers
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.

677 Reviews | 150 Followers
Clever, Enchanting, Quirky, Ponderous, Funny

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,

687 Reviews | 113 Followers
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

668 Reviews | 155 Followers
Didactic, Political, Moving

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. Read more

612 Reviews | 269 Followers
Thought-provoking, Slow, Great acting, Clever

See it if Brilliant script on exoticizing while discriminating vs Chinese Americans; clever jewel-box like set; humorous interchanges

Don't see it if static and repetitive at times

430 Reviews | 114 Followers
Asian immigration in a charming historical tale

See it if Touching experience of Chinese girl brought to NY in 1834 as a freak show. Shannon Tyo portrays her as educated and dignified. Heartbreaking

Don't see it if Daniel K. Isaac is clever as her passive-aggressive translator/assistant. Isaac also has one of the most resonant voices on the NY stage. Read more

410 Reviews | 61 Followers
Great writing, Relevant, Funny

See it if 'Dear white people, I was the hopeful caged bird and I don't want to sing anymore.' Cutting humor laid with cruel treatment of immigrants.

Don't see it if Don't like hearing how the US / white people have treated people poorly. Read more

292 Reviews | 43 Followers
Absorbing, Intelligent, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if the history of & on-going discrimination against & ill treatment of immigrants to this country interests you. Based on a true story.

Don't see it if You fear or avoid looking at our weak spots

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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November 10th, 2018

"This engaging 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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