The play is structured as a series of performances by Afong Moy, in a setting that couldn't be more perfect - a dingy red velvet curtain that's swept aside to reveal Afong arrayed in gorgeous traditional clothing sitting amongst Chinese vases, figures, and other artifacts, all displayed in rich red and deep wood surroundings (costume design by Matt LeFebvre, set and prop design by Joel Sass). Afong is accompanied by her translator Atung, whom she dismisses as irrelevant to her story, and who at first sits quietly on the side, until he gets a chance to tell his story too. Afong speaks directly to the audience in a tongue and cheek way, full of youthful enthusiasm for everything she's experiencing. After each performance, which includes walking on her tiny bound feet, eating with chopsticks, and performing a traditional tea ceremony, the curtain closes and reopens again a few, or many, years later. The performance is repeated, but things have changed, as Afong becomes less of a performance and more of a person. Her story is an allegory for America's complicated history with immigration and immigrants, particularly Chinese immigrants, and in the end emphasizes the humanity of people who just want to be seen and known.
|Katie Bradley as The Chinese Lady (photo by Nicole Neri)|
|Michael Sung Ho and Katie Bradley (photo by Nicole Neri)|
There's a lot going on here in this seemingly simple little play that concisely tells this very specific and odd story, relating it to the larger world and our present reality. Everything is thoughtfully done by the team at Open Eye Theatre, with great attention to detail (even with the tokens we pay to see the performance). The new #TCTheater season is already off to a great start, with Open Eye Theater seeing the bar high.