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REVIEW: ‘Chinglish’ laughs about miscommunication

Chinglish47102711_optDavid Henry Hwang recounts an American businessman’s misadventures in China

BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
BROADWAY REVIEW

A witty study in modern-day miscommunication, “Chinglish” bowed on Thursday at the Longacre Theatre following its world premiere by the Goodman Theatre in Chicago last summer.

A funny yet rueful new comedy by David Henry Hwang, “Chinglish” spins around Daniel (Gary Wilmes), a nice Cleveland businessman striving to promote his sign-making firm’s products in China.

As Daniel explains to the audience during the play’s opening minutes, bi-lingual signage too often is mistranslated. A Chinese traffic warning regarding “Slippery Slopes Ahead” comes out in English as “To take notice of safe: the slippery are very crafty.”

Actually, Daniel skids down many a slippery slope himself while attempting to get a toehold in China. Not only does Daniel not know the language, he also is ignorant regarding Chinese ways of indirectly doing business.

When Daniel bids for work on a provincial cultural center, he discovers that Peter (Stephen Pucci), a Chinese-speaking Briton hired as his consultant, is not quite what he claims to be. Daniel also becomes romantically involved with Xi Yan (Jennifer Lim), a savvy cultural official who harbors her own agenda.

Then again, Daniel turns out to be not entirely aboveboard himself.

Sharply acted by a fine seven-member company directed by Leigh Silverman, the smartly-written play features a satiric streak that erupts into explosive laughter, especially during a wicked scene regarding a Chinese viewpoint on the Enron scandal.



 
Comments (1)
1 Monday, 07 November 2011 18:04
Mishell
Hey check out (and like) an interesting take on the play "Chinglish" (by playwright David Henry Hwang) by one of the editors of Culture Catch, Mr. Holtje at: http://culturecatch.com/theater/david-henry-hwang-chinglish

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