Fuzzy tcl2
New York | Ends Nov 18

The Chinese Lady

From 8 critic and 12 member reviews
Members say: Relevant, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Quirky, Clever

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. 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.”

New York Theater

"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

Times Union

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

Berkshire Edge

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

Berkshire On Stage

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

Berkshire Edge

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

The Arts Fuse

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

Manchester Journal

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

Exquisite, Resonant, Hilarious

See it if You like entering worlds different from yours.

Don't see it if If you want you don’t want to think.

Also I found this play a timely reminder of who we are as a country. I read... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Quirky, Great staging

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.

Moving, Political, Didactic

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.

Also I was moved & educated by “The Chinese Lady,” even though it’s a play ... Read more Read less

Funny, Clever, Enchanting, Ponderous, Quirky

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,

Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if Want to experience a sad story of a Chinese woman who for years was expected to be an object in an American exhibit.

Don't see it if Expect fast action and drama, there is very little of that.

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Indulgently knowing

See it if you enjoy a tale interweaving historical context and the philosophical impossibility of knowing the Other.

Don't see it if First person declamatory speeches annoys you.

Also Some anachronisms are distracting: the qipao worn at the later part of... Read more Read less

Delightful, Enchanting

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.

During previews
Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Resonant, Great writing

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.

During previews
Funny, Clever, Thought-provoking, Quirky, Relevant

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.

Also I saw this show over the summer when it premiered at Barrington Stage ... Read more Read less

During previews
Clever, Relevant, Resonant

See it if Politics. History. Enchanting performance by Shannon Tyo. Interesting Set

Don't see it if No need to arrive early.. Politics. History. Be prepared for the Ugly American reminders.

During previews
Ambitious, Relevant, Cliched, Staid, Enacted seminar

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

Also Pros: Recommended viewing if you sense you’re behind on America’s mult... Read more Read less

During previews
Great acting, Intelligent, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant

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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Cast & Creatives (9)