New York and Connecticut theater reviews and news

Ethnic Theater - Asian

"Mom, Dad, I'm Living With a White Girl"
Pan Asian Repertory Theatre--West End Theatre, Manhattan

Canadian playwright Marty Chan's "Mom, Dad, I'm Living with a White Girl" might better be seen as a work in progress. Certainly Chan introduces clever ideas into this over-the-top piece about interracial, inter-generational problems. But confusion reigns as the story leaps between a real and a fantasy world.

The first story, as the title indicates, deals with Mark Gee, a Chinese-Canadian youth whose dreams are fiercely opposed to those of his parents. He wants to be a mechanic, as opposed to continuing the family business of acupuncture. Worse yet, Mark's white girl friend Sally is not the "nice Chinese girl" his mother would like him to marry. She does not meet the requirements. "You're killing your mother," says his father, laying on the guilt with a trowel. Meanwhile, Sally pushes the wavering Mark to tell his parents they are living together.

So far, the story is all too familiar, whatever its ethnic identity. But Chan turns the action upside down by introducing a second tale-a spoof of the Chinese action/foreign intrigue film. Yellow Claw, a dragon lady-type, plans world domination, but is blocked by Agent Banana and his white girl friend. A clever idea, but Chan never succeeds in integrating the stories, despite the Chinese gong (ably wielded by percussionist Shigeko Suga) which indicates a change of world. The tenuous connection is that Sally, a script reader, is at home reading that very script. If this is meant to be a Walter Mitty tale, with the hero's fantasies of greatness, it does not succeed.

Yet there are amusing swipes at narrow-minded parents and old foreign intrigue films, to name two of Chan's targets, and all four players, under Ron Nakahara's direction, give lively performances--particularly Mary Kickel, who plays the feisty white girl.

-- Irene Backalenick
Oct. 20, 2004

Sign up for our mailing list