Chicago Tribune + Chinglish

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Here's a portion of a review from the Chicago Tribune on David Henry Hwang's "Chinglish":

"Chinglish," surely Hwang's best work since "M. Butterfly," gets most of its many laughs from the mistranslations that invariably accompany any attempts made by Americans and Chinese to speak with each other. These sequences, based on Hwang's own experiences, are exceedingly funny: We watch "my hands are tied" become "he is in bondage" or "travel home safely" get mangled as an instruction to "leave in haste." The Cleveland businessman (played by James Waterston with a deft mix of the bland and the earnest) is actually in the business of making signs for public buildings, which adds another level of absurdity to the amusement.

By necessity, the play is performed in Mandarin and English by a mostly bilingual cast, with subtitles projected on the set. But the savvy director Leigh Silverman makes sure that everything is crystal clear to the audience, even as the characters are lost at sea.
Read it in full.