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A Dream of Red Pavilions Should Be Re-titled the Downfall of Red Pavilions

A Dream of Red Pavilions Should Be Re-titled the Downfall of Red Pavilions
Vichet Chum, Kelsey Wang i

Vichet Chum, Kelsey Wang in A DREAM OF RED PAVILIONS photo by John Quincy Lee

In a politically correct world you do not want to judge too harshly a company that brings Asian actors to the forefront. Unfortunately in A Dream of Red Pavilions, it is hard not to do so. It starts with British playwright Jeremy Tiang. His ambitious “dramatization” of Cao Xueqin’s four novels is lackluster. The novels written in the Qing dynasty have over 400 characters; Tiang brings 10 actors to cover 15 of them. The show runs over two hours and in all honesty, should have been cut down to an hour and you would not have lost the message of the downfall of the upper class.

Kelsey Wang, EJ An, Mandarin Wu

Kelsey Wang, EJ An and Mandarin Wu in A DREAM OF RED PAVILIONS photo by John Quincy Lee

The play begins in 18th-century China during the reign of Emperor Qianlong, the story centers on two beings from the heavenly kingdom – a stone (Vichet Chum) and a flower (Kelsey Wang), who are lead to wanting to be human due to a Fairy False (Mandarin Yu). The stone is first and a passing monk (E.J. An) agrees to make him a human, but predicts heartache. As a human he waters a flower, who from that gesture falls in love and wants to follow the stone to earth. They are reborn on earth as cousins Bao Yu (Precious Jade) and Dai Yu (Dark Jade). They fall in love, but their union is ill fated since she is sickly. Their elders favor a more suitable union with his cousin Bao Chai (Leanne Cabrera). When Bao Yu is trick him into marrying Bao Chai, the heartache that was predicted by the monk comes to pass.

As this is taking place their family Jia family heading for social disgrace and financial disaster. The head of the family (Fenton Li) is thrilled when his daughter, Yuan Chun (Mandarin Wu), is named imperial concubine, but her death leads to the family’s destruction. They represent a crumbling society as the Chinese aristocracy finds itself increasingly unable to maintain the façade of noble affluence.

The play is like a badly acted novella. Only Sheryl Liu’s pavilionesq set and costumes by Hyun Sook Kim surpass the mediocrity of this endeavor.

Director Tisa Chang production is just not well acted, well written and is bland.

The Pan-Asian Repertory Theatre is a company to keep your eyes on, just not with this production.

A Dream of Red Pavilions: Pan-Asian Repertory Theatre at Clurman Theatre, 410 West 42nd St. until Feb. 14

Entertainment

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

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