I’ve been really lucky with my theatre choices lately. “Yellow Face,” the last production at the Mark Taper Forum before it temporarily closes for renovations, continued that streak. Written by Henry David Hwang, the author of the Broadway hit “M. Butterfly,” it’s the story, semi-fictional, of what happened after that play.
I actually believed it all, and thought it was a 100% true story, until near the end, when I realized that it was a fictionalized version of his casting of a real play he wrote, “Face Value,” that closed pre-Broadway. Now I don’t know exactly how much is true, but it really doesn’t matter for the enjoyment of the evening.
| Tzi Ma and Hoon Lee in “Yellow Face” at the Mark Taper Forum. Photo by: Craig Schwartz.
True or not, this play was thoroughly entertaining, although I found the first act to be funnier than the second. The friend I brought along nodded off only once, which is a record! Nowadays, all of us who see L.A. productions spend half of the time catching up on our sleep. I’m usually awake, but planning my wardrobe for the next event.
Back to “Yellow Face,” words that make me uncomfortable to even write, which I guess was kind-of the point of the play. There’s so much to tell of the story, but I loved going into it with no pre-conceived notions and I want to let you have the same experience. Trust me, though, I can’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t like this production, a statement I can rarely make.
There were seven cast members and a bunch of chairs on the set. That’s all that was needed. All the actors were good, but I loved the lead, Hoon Lee, playing the author himself.
My favorite moments were those featuring Tzi Ma, the Chinese villain from this season’s “24.” I would have never pictured him to be so amusing, while I was cringing from him torturing Jack Bauer. I really wanted to talk to him at the party, but I got caught up with others and it just went by so fast.
There were many Asian celebs in the audience, but none more exciting to see than Daniel Dae Kim from “Lost.” As handsome as he is, I kept my distance because I want to think that all the characters on that show are real and not other people in real life. Nutty, I know. It’s the way I feel about the late, lamented “The OC,” too. Some things are just best left to fiction. Now if only I could figure out just which parts of “Yellow Face” that includes, I’d be all set.
Yellow Face running through July 1, 2007
Mark Taper Forum 135 N. Grand Ave. 213-628-2772
And lastly, I must report one more instance of repulsive audience behavior. Rudeness at the theater (talking on the phone, reading emails, texting, opening noisy candy wrappers) is bad enough. But when the person sitting next to you does something disgusting, you have to say something. I’m getting better at letting others know when they’re out of order in the theater.
At the opening of “The Constant Wife,” the man next to me was so nauseating, I was shocked to see a wedding band on his finger. He held his hands up, close to his face and right next to me instead of to the side of his wife, and constantly picked his nails, loudly! I’m sorry, it wasn’t quite constantly; he occasionally had half his fingers in his mouth and chewed on them…when he didn’t have them in his nose. (I won’t be eating anytime soon after writing this. So, I may read this paragraph every day as a diet aid.)
Several times I said, “Shh,” usually to no avail. Finally, when he was ruining a juicy part of the second act, I just said, “Will you please stop that noise?!” He made like he didn’t know what I was talking about, and continued to pull on the nails, but at least down low this time.
So, now he’s the winner of the Most Odious Audience Member award. The previous one was a semi-good-looking girl at a screening last year, who I was happy sat down next to me because the woman who had thought of it before reeked of perfume. Why people are so unaware of how they smell, (and do it on purpose!), is beyond me.
But the girl then picked off her nail polish and flicked it onto me for the whole two hours. I kept brushing it off, increasingly obviously, but it didn‘t stop her. So, finally, I came up with a plan and took out my nail file and offered it to her. Brilliant. Or so one would think.
I whispered, “Do you need this file?” She seemed shocked by the concept, and declined. I countered, “Oh, I thought you broke a nail, and were trying to fix it.” She stopped her piggyness momentarily, but returned to it, for the duration of “The Devil Wears Prada.” How much polish could she have had???
When the lights came on at the end, the floor was filled with her nail shavings. Only, most of them were in front of MY seat!!! So, now the theater staff will think it was me. And all because I sat next to a pig.
So, please everyone, realize that when you’re in public, please don’t act like you’re watching TV on the couch. And definitely don’t invite me over, if you’re one of “them“ because if that’s how you behave in public, I can’t imagine how disgusting you are at home.