|Krystle Piamonte & Francis Jue|
|Rinabeth Apostol, Francis Jue, Kristie Piamonte & Jomar Tagatac|
As the evening continues to splinter into segments and stories galore, these three actors will return in the likes of a jolly, dancing Chinese lion; an acupuncture-practicing chiropractor with foot-long, white beard; and a notorious Chinatown criminal in a floor-length white mink named Shrimp Boy who is toting a big gun and a bigger mouth. Shrimp Boy (Jomar Tagatac) will bring the house down as he mimics his mother yelling in a loud, froggy voice “RAYMOND” at him because he will not regularly come see her, never mind he was in prison at the time (“with my good friend, Charles Mansion”).
Lauren is warned by three “Lum Elders” (Actors 1, 2 and 3 taking on quirky characters right off the streets of Chinatown) that she only has until sundown to find her father. To do so, she must obtain Chinatown’s “strongest whiskey,” “sweetest orange,” and “loudest firecracker.” Layer by layer, Ms. Piamonte’s Lauren loses all inhibitions as she buys the whiskey without having any money, line dances with a lion for his hidden orange, and solves a riddle under the threat of losing her own face to the Sichuan Face Changer (a remarkable character’s whose multi-colored countenances magically switch before our eyes — all part of the incredibly creative, riotously designed costumes of Sarah Nietfeld). She even meets a high-heeled, gender-fluid version of the “model ancestor” (Will Dao), clearly proving this is an “only in San Francisco” kind of story.
A review can not begin to describe adequately the seemingly random but carefully orchestrated set of events that joyfully, hilariously make up Lauren Yee’s King of the Yees. As our playwright on the stage discovers the parts of Chinese culture embedded within the Chinatown she had prior thought obsolete and irrelevant to her life, she also discovers the Yee within her — the Yee that she needs to know in order truly to know her dad. San Francisco Playhouse brings a love letter to the Chinese Community and to The City itself in this fabulously funny and eventually heartwarming tale where a play within a play becomes a daughter’s story about finding a door and a way to enter into who she really is, “deep down.”
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