2012/13 season > Chinglish
David Henry Hwang won three Obies and the Tony Award for Best Play with popular scripts like M. Butterfly and FOB. Now he’s back with a canny comedy of cross-cultural errors. In Chinglish, an American businessman heads to Asia to score a lucrative contract for his family’s firm—but the deal isn’t the only thing getting lost in translation when he collides with a Communist minister, a bumbling consultant and a suspiciously sexy bureaucrat. Two-time Obie-winner Leigh Silverman returns to Berkeley Rep to stage the twists in a terrific play she took to Broadway. Love is on the line, and laughter fills the ledger in Chinglish.
Please note: Chinglish includes supertitles. The show also includes brief strobe effects and smoking. If you have questions about the show’s content, please contact the box office.
“Hilarious…a near-perfect production…[Alex] Moggridge is a charmingly earnest innocent abroad, with some dark secrets in his past. [Michelle] Krusiec is a magnetically evolving revelation as Xi Yan, a cold negotiator, erotic lover and personification of her own moral code. Hwang, a past master of exploring the East-West culture clash—in such gems as M. Butterfly, FOB and Trying to Find Chinatown—has written a rich new chapter for a new world order with Chinglish…It’s a tale crisply and handsomely told.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Hilarious…Probably the funniest show ever to cross Berkeley Rep’s Roda Theatre and could well be the funniest show the company has ever produced. While director Leigh Silverman delivers Hwang’s script at a slapstick pace, the comedy is sharp and intelligent, with Hwang playing with words in English and Chinese like a jazz musician plays with the notes…As for the actors, they are all playing at the top of their game…Each is making remarkable comic decisions to give the entire show a sense of being polished to near perfection.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group
“Crackling comic energy…full of punches and tickles and provocations…Let there be no miscommunication here: Chinglish speaks the language of laughs, and that translates into a disarmingly delightful evening of theater…The laughs flow constantly, and the performances seem effortless, even as they straddle two very different worlds and languages.”—Theater Dogs
“Hilarous…Run to your phone to get your tickets—the day I was there was a sell out with only standing room tickets available. All ages and all ethnicities will enjoy this clever play.”—Asian Week
“Chinglish is sexy, fun and hilarious!”—New York Magazine
“Hilarious…This well-made comedy takes a poignant view of the profound isolation and terrible vulnerability of people who are lost without their native language.”—Variety
“One of the funniest plays in memory…There’s sex, heartache, even a bit of song and dance…Chinglish manages the neat trick of being about issues, yet populated with real humans while consistently funny. I haven’t heard an audience laugh that much in years.”—Chicago Sun-Times
“Thrilling…Hwang has built a bilingual farce about mistranslation that explores the cultural differences between China and America using two languages, and then layered a love story on top of it to illustrate the divide…The result is a thoughtful, funny and poignant piece.”—Associated Press
“One of the three best plays of the year!”—Time Magazine
“China has become very interested in Broadway-style shows. And I’m the only even nominally Chinese person who’s ever written a Broadway show so I started to be called over for a lot of different meetings. And I think that Chinglish the play comes out of my trying to deal with what it means to do business in China, and the things I understood, and the things I didn’t understand.”—David Henry Hwang
VIDEO: David Henry Hwang on CNN
David Henry Hwang and CNN’s Erin Burnett discuss the linguistic phenomenon of Chinglish. The interview includes clips from the Broadway production.
AUDIO: An interview on All Things Considered
David Henry Hwang and Melissa Block discuss Chinglish. The interview includes soundbites from the play.
David Henry Hwang wins the Steinberg
What he says about winning the most generous prize in theatre.
Take a look at the Chinglish set.
Behind the scenes at rehearsals.
Stamping out Chinglish
Our graphics fellow tells how she created the show art.