Various Authors 11:30 p.m., June 21
The Joy Luck Club
During the second Sino-Japanese War, Suyuan Woo founded the Joy Luck Club with three friends to cope with the chaos around them. When Amy Tan's novel begins, Suyuan has died and her daughter, Jing-Mei "June" Woo, has been invited to take her seat at an American version of the club. The novel, and Susan Kim's dramatic adaptation, shoots off in four directions (literally the four compass points and the four winds), as June and her friends, and their mothers and grandmothers tell "talk stories" of fragmentation, conflict, and a shared/lost cultural heritage. Ultimately, the women of June's generation find their voices in newfound gifts, from a past they previously avoided, that have been in their bones all along. Staging the 18-scene, tree-like structure's a vast enterprise. I wish I could report that the San Diego Asian American Repertory has pulled it off. But the night I caught the show, the production had good moments (the red dragon spectacle, for instance, and performances by Elise Kim Prosser, Joyelle Cabato, Tiffany Loui, and Robert Borzych), but the cast overall needed to project a good third more. Loud fans behind the audience (especially the one in the middle) drowned them out. Also, many of the narrators spoke in whispers, and their voices consistently trailed off at ends of sentences, which blurred key factual information and made the stories hard to follow if one hadn't read the book. These difficulties can be overcome, and the production could improve a great deal during the course of its run.
When: Ongoing until Sunday, September 14, 2008
- Sundays, 2pm
- Fridays, 8pm
- Saturdays, 8pm