Single Asian Female @ La Boite Review

Published in Arts News  
Single Asian Female @ La Boite Review Image © Dylan Evans
Michelle Law's 'Single Asian Female', put simply, is genius.

The story follows Asian woman Pearl (Hsiao-Ling Tang) who is the mother of two girls, Mei (Courtney Stewart) and Zoe (Alex Lee). It's a story about the power of family, the strength of love and the hard truths behind immigration.

The set is gorgeous; a homely restaurant setting with a small staircase leading up to two bedrooms, and there are tables on stage where audience members can sit, which makes them a part of the action.

Perhaps the greatest thing about this show is the relationship between Pearl and her daughters. It's the dysfunctional up-and-down family dynamic that so many can relate to, which made Hsiao-Ling, Courtney and Alex an absolute joy to watch from beginning to end.

While 'Single Asian Female' can be looked at as simple on the surface, it dives into dark depths and addresses things we all know about but rarely bring up in conversation. Mei, the youngest child, is fed up with being “different”, and wants to throw out all her clothes and belongings that might signify that she's Asian. Zoe, the eldest, is fighting to find work in her dream field, and seemingly failing because of her gender and cultural heritage. Pearl on the other hand, is struggling with something much more terrifying: staying put in Australia full-stop.

There is one scene in particular that captures each girl's individual struggles. The lights go out, and each of their faces is lit up in the darkness. Mei by her mobile phone, Zoe by her bedroom light and Pearl by her lamp. It creates a moment of reflection and stillness, which is quite stunning.

Emily Vascotto is hilariously cringe-worthy as Mei's 'friend' Lana. Throughout the entire production, Lana takes racist jabs at Mei and her family, without any consequences because of her apparent superiority. Katie, played by Emily Burton, is Mei's through-thick-and-thin bestie. Their on-stage chemistry is wonderful and, in all the unrest happening, refreshing.

Patrick Jhanur is the dreamy Paul who meets Zoe and loves her for her. That's something else this play does exceptionally well: presents the harrowing and devastating as much as presenting the heart-warming and beautiful. It's a rollercoaster of emotions (to use a cliché) but it works. It works like a charm.

Michelle Law has really and truly written something that deserves as much praise and attention as it can get. Each cast member has their own strengths which carry 'Single Asian Female' through from a strong beginning to an even stronger ending.

★★★★★

'Single Asian Female' plays at La Boite Theatre until 4 March.

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