THE BOY WHO WOULD BE ASIAN
nytheatre.com review by Stacey Reed
The Boy Who Would Be Asian, presented by The Dorky Theater, is
the wacky journey of a Boy who has been shaped by the video games of his
past. From wild fight scenes with "imaginary ninjas" to choreographed
episodes with drug-induced "inner demons," this show is quite a ride.
August 15, 2003
It begins with a conversation between the Boy (John Chou) and a narrator-type played by Ryan McWilliams. Here, it is revealed that the Boy is on a quest to learn how to make an Asian dish to honor his dead father. He hops a plane to Neo-Shaolin, where he is seated next to Sniper1 (Adam Yorca), who is in search of a Magic Mushroom. They become fast friends despite themselves and set off together.
My favorite moment happens on board the flight to Neo-Shaolin, where Marina Libel is stellar as a deadpan flight attendant on a kooky airline. Libel deserves much more stage time than she’s given.
Once in Neo-Shaolin, the Boy and Sniper1 meet Bad Guy (Michael Arauz), a good-natured drug dealer who is trying to save enough cash to get back to the States. He is also searching for the Magic Mushroom of Neo-Shaolin and Super Mario Brothers lore.
The high points of this production are those involving the ensemble, including many excellently choreographed fight scenes. Another highlight was an entertaining interlude set to Michael Jackson’s "Thriller."
I wanted more characterization on stage. Much as the scenes themselves feel repetitive, the characters all seem like identical paper dolls cut out of writer/director Eddie Kim’s journal. Between their musings on drugs and their nostalgia for their video game-ridden pasts, there is not much besides costumes to keep these characters straight. Cheers to costumer Liam O’Rourke for outfitting this cast in a simple, yet inventive fashion.
There are few established relationships. Much of the script is delivered in monologue form, and even in scenes involving two or more actors, lines are often delivered directly to the audience. The only solid relationship I witnessed was between Arauz’s character and Girl (Diana Buirski) in a series of flashbacks.
In a nutshell, see this show if you were glued to the TV playing video games for a good part of your young adulthood. Ridden with references to Contra, Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, I think this show has great potential, but it’s not quite there yet.