King of Yees

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In association with Center Theatre Group.

A World Premiere.

By Lauren Yee.

Directed by Joshua Kahan Brody.

At the Goodman Theatre’s Owen Stage, Chicago.

San Francisco Chinatown family saga has cute moments.

The Goodman Theatre has commissioned Lauren Yee to write a family history play about San Francisco’s Chinatown, King of Yees. Lauren is an outsider from a new generation of Yee’s. She has come up with an off-beat style that includes meta-theatrics, traditional identity satire with a distinct Chinese-American traits. When we meet Lauren’s father, the lovableableLarry Lee (the super-charming Francis Jue),  the driving force of San Francisco’s Chinatown’s Yee Fung Toy’s family association, a  seemingly obsolescent men’s club is featured. Lauren, as Larry’s daughter, dismisses the patriarchal cultural despite her father’s dedication. When her father suddenly goes missing, Lauren (Stephenie Soohyun Park).

When her father suddenly goes missing, Lauren (Stephenie Soohyun Park) embarks on a  search through San Francisco’s Chinatown where she’ll have to embrace the past in order to get her father back. Filled with much humor, appreciated more my the Chinese-Americans in the audience, King of the Yees comes off as a blend of Chinese past traditions and contemporary beliefs. Lauren fights her past and her father yet she must acknowledge her roots to succeed.

This ambitious work has a brisk pace, visual delights, and cutely funny situations. There is even several asides wherein two actors, Daniel Smith andAngelia Lin comment on the state of Asian actors including Koreans playing Chinese, etc. Mostly these asides add depth to the production. King of the Yees is manic, grounded in the blend of ethnic tradition, and rich in storytelling. Yet, ultimately, there is little new added to the classic tradition versus modern cultural identity. Lauren, after her wild ride, finds that her father Larry has much to offer.  Her ride through her past is ultimately justified through clever wit, and some homemade wisdom.

Recommended.

Tom Williams.

Date Reviewed: April 9, 2017.

Jeff Recommended.

For more info checkout theKing of Yees page at theatreinchicago.com.

At the Goodman Theatre’s Owen Stage, 170 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL, Call 312-443-3600, www.goodmantheatre.org, tickets $10 – $40, Tuesday at 7:30 (4/18 only), Wednesday at 7:30, Thursday at 2 (4/27 only) and 7:30, Friday at 8, Saturday at 2 and 8, Sunday at 2 and 7:30 (no 7:30 on 4/16 or 4/30, running time is 2 hours, 5 minutes with intermission, through April 30, 2017.

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