Friday, February 28, 2020
Thursday, February 27, 2020
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
"Fresh Off the Boat" was a show that was both extremely relevant and not at all relevant to me. Eddie Huang, on whom the original concept is based, even though the family depicted is much more TV sitcom happy than Huang's, is about the same age as my brother. I had not done the math on this previously, but watching this depiction of a teenager in the 1990's I had a sudden realization that my brother own that exact shirt in one of the episodes. (Kudos to the costume designer for that level of specificity.) Similarly my brother was a kid who at times grew quickly out, and up, who showed an interest in food, and who looked a little different from some of his classmates.
Of course, my parents are not immigrants, we are third generation Chinese, and more generations than you can count Hawaiian, along with some other European stuff thrown in. My brother did not become a chef, and my brother was the youngest and not the oldest, and we didn't move out of DC, in fact, unlike my sister and I, my brother didn't even go to Maryland for middle school.
But as someone old enough to remember "All American Girl" it was exciting to see Asian Americans on TV as Asian Americans. I remember during the "All Things Considered" interview with Margaret Cho, they put "Fresh Off the Boat", "Crazy Rich Asians", and "Always Be My Maybe" up on screen and asked Cho about this Asian American comedy moment. And I thought to myself, yay, but like, you could still fit the full size posters on the screen. You didn't even need a second row. (Yes, we could add "To All the Boys" and "PS I Love You". I want to run out of fingers.)
All of this is to say, I am thrilled this show existed. I hope we get more iterations. I hope that nor just the folks in this show get more jobs, but also it just becomes normal to see various iterations of Asian Americans.
But back to the show. I loved the show so much, but felt the changeover in the years started to show. It became clear that it was turning into the kind of sitcom that barely remembered things they had set up for the characters. (Remember Marvin's older daughter? It's okay, the show clearly doesn't.) Jessica held approximately seventeen different jobs throughout the show. And it took a while for them to figure out a personality for Emery that wasn't neither Evan nor Eddie.
But, those last two episodes, where we flashed forward and saw each kid having gotten a dream and the parents and grandma still happy and healthy, it was great.
So, I wish all the folks involved in the show the best in their future endeavors.
Monday, February 24, 2020
Friday, February 21, 2020
Thursday, February 20, 2020
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Friday, February 14, 2020
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Wednesday, February 12, 2020
Monday, February 10, 2020
Thursday, February 06, 2020
Tuesday, February 04, 2020
Content warning: use and abuse of both prescription and non prescription drugs, suicidal ideation, depictions of mental illness
Monday, February 03, 2020
Content warning: historically accurate racism (terms starting with d and m), sexual harassment, onstage pistol usage for armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, threatened murder, and suicidal ideation.
Gun and Powder is inspired by the story of two of one of the playwright's relatives. Family lore about them shifted.
The show uses the ensemble in a Greek chorus narration fashion and as they tell you at the start, you know how family stories are.
It's late 1800's Texas. Twin sisters Mary and Martha Clarke were born free, although their white dad scampered off before they were even born. They work with their Black mom picking cotton and it sucks, especially when a drought means they run short of their quota. Struck with inspiration they go off finding towns where their parentage and therefore biracial status are unknown and they can get into places where they can rob folks with decent amounts if money. At one point one character calls them Robin Hood, but the only folks they seem to be helping are their mom and themselves.
They arrive in an outpost for one last score and encounter Jesse and Elijah. Jesse is white, and the richest man in town. Elijah is one of his servants. Here the sister's goals diverge. Mary is enjoying the good life, being showered with trinkets, and getting the love of Jesse. Martha discovers that Elijah sees her softness, her caring, and also has noticed she is Black, as is he.
So, I'm going to try not to spoil too much, but it was in the second act I wanted the show to delve a smidge further. A clear case of loving the show enough that I wanted it to be a little better. I am using the term biracial here, but at the time being biracial meant being Black or passing as white. There were no other choices. So Mary realizes the challenge is that marriage to a white man means a life of denial, a life of possible discovery.
And Martha realizes that loving a Black man doesn't quite solve everything either.
The cast, especially the two sisters and Elijah are amazing. The songs are both memorable and tricky, such that I wondered if another cast could do them so well. The costuming flirted with being period appropriate but there was a hoodie and a handkerchief hem. It worked, and fit the theme that this was more of a story about a time than a straight up historical.
My romance and closure loving heart wanted a little more from the ending, but it was a show and performance worth seeing. This cast and these playwrights are all amazing talents.