Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet at Book-It Theater
If you've been in a book club in the past couple of years, you probably read Jamie Ford's Seattle-based novel about Japanese internment during World War II, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It's been selling like crazy pretty much since its release in 2009 (and landed on BookScan and New York Times best-seller lists), and now the stage adaptation at Book-It is enjoying the same frenzy—shows sell out left and right, midweek shows get added, and the run has been extended.
The story covers a youthful relationship between a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl in a Seattle prep school as remembered by the boy, now a widower, and is thoroughly adequate in a middle-school field trip way. While it's still all too rare to see a large cast comprising mostly people of color, or to see a story about racial injustice that isn't framed through the eyes of white people (e.g., The Help), this show retains that familiar (and unfortunate) audience-pleasing quality of congratulating viewers for their outrage at caricatures of evil without actually challenging them to any self-examination or action. Racism was bad (and it's all in the past). Love is good. Tears. Applause. Repeat.