Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011


David Henry Hwang's play about a naïve American businessman in China is billed as a comedy, and it certainly has as many laughs as any show on Broadway. But what's impressive is how shrewdly Hwang makes a common cultural joke — the wacky mistranslations of American slang into Chinese — the entry point for a serious and nuanced study of the Chinese/American cultural divide. The play, from the author of M. Butterfly, skirts close to familiar stereotypes (the ugly American, the inscrutable Chinese functionary) but never seems facile or inauthentic. There's no substitute for a playwright who knows what he's talking about.