Chinglish

Tony award-winning and Pulitzer Prize finalist David Henry Hwang’s hilarious comedy about the misadventures of miscommunication explores the modern difficulty of doing business between East and West.

Directed by Andrew Keates.

Venue

Park Theatre, 200

Cast

Lobo Chan
Duncan Harte
Siu-See Hung
Windson Liong
Candy Ma
Gyuri Sarossy
Minhee Yeo
 

**** Evening Standard, Fiona Mountford

”Are you a small fish or a big pond?’ asks a Chinese official of an American businessman, in David Henry Hwang’s satisfyingly chewy and complex, not to mention highly amusing, examination of the difficulties inherent in West-East business dealings. In 21 previous outings to the Park in nearly four years, I’ve managed just one review rating above three stars, but I’m delighted to double that number now with this sparky drama.

Daniel Cavanaugh (Gyuri Sarossy), boss of an American signage company, is desperate to crack the Chinese market. Local officials are aware that mis-translated signs, of the ‘Deformed Men’s restroom’ variety, are a big problem. But it’s not as simple as that, as business in this society is a complicated nexus of unspoken ties and obligations. When Daniel starts to fall for work contact Miss Xi (Candy Ma), matters become ever more entangled.
Early on in Andrew Keates’s slick, bi-lingual production is a cherishable scene of linguistic misunderstanding played out via the developing battle between a Chinese-speaking Englishman (Duncan Harte) and an English-speaking Chinese woman (mischievous Siu-see Hung). The censorious twist to the Chinese translator’s spin on every line is increasingly droll; her views on Chinese heritage culture are delightfully downbeat.

The problems – and possibilities – of language are everywhere here, as Hwang captures beautifully that unworldly sense of being let loose in a foreign culture.

With an unknown language bubbling all around, Daniel finds that he can slip the bonds of himself for a while. Miss Xi, too, senses possibilities. Harte’s Teacher Peter, meanwhile, is struggling to maintain his USP in a world where ever more Westerners speaks Chinese. A stimulating evening.’