Will and I went to a great play called Chinglish while we were in New York. It’s about miscommunication and the complicated situations it can cause. What really attracted me to the show was that both English and Mandarin was spoken. While it helps to be bilingual when watching the play, there are surtitles on stage for those who only speak English. It also helps that the play runs under 2 hours including intermission, for people like me who tend to get itchy-butt 90 minutes in.
The story starts with a businessman, Daniel, who goes to a small city in China’s midwest. He doesn’t know a word of Chinese, so he meets up with a “business consultant” British guy who speaks pretty good mandarin. Stephen Pucci, who plays the consultant, has great Mandarin-speaking skills, as well as a decent Beijing-opera-style singing voice which makes for some hilarious scenes. Wacky hijinks follow as the Daniel tries to get the Chinese government to sign a contract with his company.
The dialog, especially the mis-communication issues reminded me of some nights at my parents’ dinner table while they were trying to talk to Will. It was funny in a that’s-so-true sort of way. Another cool thing about the play was the set design. The scene changes are done live, with the set and furniture moving in and out on tracks while rhythmic music plays. Who knew one could get so excited about a scene change.
There was a Q&A session after the show. One member of the audience started crying tears of joy (I hope that’s what it was!) when he was remarking about how far Asian-American actors have come. It was touching, but also awkward.
I highly recommend the show, even if it doesn’t come with a slightly-awkward, Q&A session afterward.