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A CurtainUp Review
The disturbing China rule that each family can only have one child in order to keep the population under control is rarely talked about, let alone theatricalized. OneFamilyOneChildOneDoor is about the repercussions that this rule could have on a family in a country coated with traditions that still allow men so much more of a public life than women.
The idea of a government sanctioning our life cycles is morbidly and emotionally fascinating. Unfortunately, this production is a lot less dynamic than its premise. Written and directed by Yangtze Repertory's artistic director, Joanna Chan, the dialogue feels clunky and repetitive, as do many of the characters' movements around the set. The set itself, by Chris Jones is a humble yet beautifully done village home, with the back of the stage serving as the walkway up to the house's one door.
In theory seeing each character approaching the home is quite interesting. However, it becomes inefficient and painfully repetitive, as it is how 99 percent of the stage entrances and exits happen.
Living in a prosperous farmhouse in a village in South China, the Chang family consists of a grandmother, father, fourteen year-old daughter, and a pregnant mother. Chang, the father, wants a son to be his successor, and he is sure this fetus is it. Throughout the play, the family deals with this forbidden pregnancy, as the entire town rallies behind them, and the government against them.
Save for a few talented and consistent actors, the cast did not come across as being of a professional caliber. Sixteen-year-old Hana Kitasei plays the daughter with scene stealing skill and stage presence. Brian Yang as the father gives a solid, empathetic performance. The female ensemble performers who held their own were Jill Sanders, Sara Elizabeth Noerper and Kishiko Hasegawa. The most unsatisfying performer is Karen Tan as the grandmother with her over-zealous and rigid movements and expressions.
Though billed as a "black comedy", there is barely a laugh line in this script, and neither does the ending make for a darkly comic perspective. Hopefully a more skilled playwright will try to write about this forbidden concept, and a show with stronger production values will be mounted.
Mendes at the Donmar
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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