Written by Lauren Yee, Ching Chong Chinaman is a comedy about an assimilated Asian-American family going through the (middle-class) motions. There is, to begin with, serious sexual tension between the very horny mother, Grace (Kathy Hsieh), and the very frigid father, Ed (Stan Asis). The family's eldest child, Desdemona (Elizabeth Daruthayan), seems to have no other meaning in her life than the dream of becoming a student at Princeton—and there is no real reason she wants to attend this school other than for its prestige. The family's son, Upton (Christian Ver), spends more time in virtual worlds than in the actual world.

Early in the play, the son brings home a stranger named J (Jose Abaoag). The stranger is there to help the son with his homework. The stranger speaks only Chinese. The stranger starts fucking the horny mother in the pantry, which comes alive with their music of sexual pleasure. The father senses something is up, but he does not want to look into it. The play takes a sudden turn when the daughter learns that the father has Mexican blood mixed with his Asian blood. The whole family (and the mother's lover) goes to Mexico to reclaim its roots. The play takes another sudden turn when it is revealed that the father is not the real father of the children. There are more turns and twists that, as a whole, do not add up to anything substantial.

At the center of this play, which could be cut down to an hour (from its current hour and three-quarters) and acted with far less enthusiasm (this enthusiasm only eases in the final, melancholy five minutes), are the questions around the stranger and the father's impotence. But these two central matters are not elaborated on or taken seriously; neither becomes more than fodder for cheap laughs. And what does that leave the audience with? A feeling that American culture has made the father impotent. True, the Chinese stranger turns out to have some turns and twists of his own, but this impotence, an American impotence, is never resolved. To make matters worse, the mother is not only horny but also fertile. Is Ching Chong Chinaman about cultural castration? The stranger enters the family as an illusion of authentic Chineseness—the potency of the old culture against the impotency of the new culture. If so, the play's political orientation is not progressive but conservative. recommended

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