After a much acclaimed run at La Boîte Theatre in Brisbane, Michelle Law’s debut play, Single Asian Female, is back at Belvoir St! It’s a show I would not miss after weeks of reading rave reviews on Twitter in 2017. Marketed as witty, fierce, and fresh, Single Asian Female promised to be properly contemporary Australian comedy. Get ready for another rave.
From the very beginning I was absorbed, quite literally on the stage, seated in front of a large dining table cum karaoke platform in a family home cum storage room cum Chinese restaurant run by the Wong family on the Sunshine Coast. Pearl (Hsiao-Ling Tang) welcomes you both into her business and her family in a musical celebration of finally ridding them of her husband and establishing the matriarchy she always deserved. Even with the flashy dress and colourful lights of a double performance, Pearl is a character one warms to straight away, representing aspects of all Australian mothers.
The daughters of the family, Zoe (Alex Lee) and Mei (Courtney Stewart), are the bickering, hugging, laughing, crying young women only Pearl could have raised them to be. Lee and Stewart play some of the most believable sibling arguments I’ve ever seen on stage and never seem to sway too far away from the audience’s affection, even at their most self-destructive.
Single Asian Female has all the talking points covered, race, gender, relationships (familial, plutonic, and sexual), and very cleanly moves between national conversations and personal realities. The comedy is sharp and creative and doesn’t take away from the build-up to the show’s climactic crux, which comes somewhat as a surprise, though perhaps is not as unfamiliar to some audience members as our multicultural community would have us believe. Before the show sells out, I highly recommend picking up tickets to this one. It is heartwarming and authentic theatre that is exactly the kind of work Australia should be producing in 2018.
Single Asian Female is running in Belvoir’s Upstair Theatre from February 17 – March 25.