Theatre Review: Single Asian Female, La Boite Theatre Brisbane (15.02.17)

Michelle Law’s Single Asian Female says all the things we’re not allowed to, the things we should be allowed to. The things we know are right even though more often than not Australian culture and politics gets it so wrong. This show says all of that and lets you laugh while they do it.

After high anticipation since last year, Michelle Law has struck a mark for Australian theatre. We all knew it would, and in many respects, some of the letdowns in the execution of this play are excused on the merits of the play itself.

Michele Law talks race, gender and what it truly means to be a family in Single Asian Female. Taking place in the late hours of a Chinese restaurant, where memories stir and embroil three different women in their consequences.

Pearl, played by Hsiao-Ling Tang, wastes no time to get her point across. Her humour is on target always and the karaoke is even better. She is a typical, embarrassing mother. Although in some instances, Pearl seems more like a prop used as a neon sign even brighter than the sign above the restaurant to direct the audience to pay attention to important truths about to be announced, she is a driving force for laughter and wisdom.

Alex Lee absolutely channels a twenty-something figuring it out. A residential address is complicated. Dating is even worse. Michelle Law seems to feed a lot of her own experience into the veins of the character Zoe giving her true life and instant recognition amongst audience members. The first date from hell is particularly honest and resembles life as art rather than art imitating life.

It’s been said elsewhere in the past 24 hours and we’ll agree to it, at times it does meander. True to form, family life can meander and slow its pace before spaghetti hits the fan and things ramp up again but this is the meandering that comes from a lack of editing down the words. The words of a play are precious and not to be wasted. A little tightening up of the second act especially could have made the final scenes far more impactful.

Despite the occasional misfires, and the somewhat contrived recounts of high school and its many dangers there is an honest message in Single Asian Female. Seeing different perspectives of not so much being single, as this is in the scheme of things not so sad, but being alone and feeling lost.

That’s what’s truly insightful in this play – we can all get lost no matter how wise or young, where you were born or what you thought you were doing for love, but family can always help you be found again.

La Boite Theatre’s Single Asian Female is playing at the Roundhouse Theatre in Brisbane until 4 March. More info here.


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