The Studio Space at Crow’s theatre has been transformed into a Victorian Museum gallery for Lloyd Suh’s The Chinese Lady. Directed by Marjorie Chan (Artistic Director at Theatre Passe Muraille), The Chinese Lady tells the true story of Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to ever immigrate to the United States, and the vast societal changes she witnessed throughout her life. A beautiful story about the things that connect us rather than tear us apart, The Chinese Lady is an eye-opening piece of theatre you won’t want to miss.
Seeing The Chinese Lady is a true experience; when you arrive, the characters are already out on the simple set, Afong Moy (played by Rosie Simon) looking at the audience members as they find their seats. We become the Victorian audience looking at her, having paid our twenty-five cents to do so! Once the play proper begins, it is made very clear that the real Moy would have never addressed an audience as Simon is able to address us now, that we are hearing a fictionalized representation of what she would have loved to have spoken about to her audiences. I feel like that reminder is extremely important as it reinforces the way that both Afong Moy and her interpreter Atung (played by John Ng) are treated by the people they work for. Yet her story is one of perpetual hope: hope for understanding, acceptance, and a safe future for all.
Rosie Simon and John Ng are both incredible in this production. Their dynamic is clear from the beginning, and I loved watching it change and evolve over the course of the play. Simon is a perfect choice for Moy, as she’s able to convincingly be a young, hopeful 14 year old as she is a strong, fierce adult. I loved the way her hair and costume changed depending on her age; and how Simon’s entire physicality and how she held herself changed too. Ng has a gorgeous moment about halfway through the play where Atung talks about his hopes and desires, and I was blown away by the vulnerability and tenderness Ng shows. Both actors break your hearts with these roles, not only because of the suffering of their individual characters, but because these characters are emblematic of, and a part of, a larger suffering.
Please make sure that you stick around after the show and learn more about the real events which have inspired this beautiful piece. You absolutely need to get out to see this production before it closes on May 21st! For more information and tickets, visit: https://www.crowstheatre.com/whats-on/view-all/thechineselady
John Ng and Rosie Simon in The Chinese Lady. Photo by Dahlia Katz