paper son

<<written & performed by byron yee>>


Byron Yee’s autobiographical show tells of his life as the son of Chinese immigrants and his gradual discovery of his cultural heritage. The show, rich in historical material, is segmented into five scenes, and starts with a hilarious tale about Yee’s attempts to break into the “business” with an audition for a role as a “hysterical Chinese restaurant owner” — a role he was unsuited for because he lacked the proper accent. The rejection propels him on a journey to discover his personal and ethnic roots, because Chinese culture is a “Rorschach test” he can’t decipher. His quest ultimately takes him to Angel Island, where he learns of the hardships and degradation endured by Chinese immigrants there, and uncovers a startling secret about his family’s past. This last act, entitled “Alleged,” is emotionally charged, embellished by authentic documents obtained from the National Archives displayed on a screen. Yee’s narrative is a tad unwieldy, and the segues are often jarring. But he is a polished comedian and storyteller whose passion for this highly engaging story is unquestionable and infectious. Gascon Center Theater, 8737 Washington Blvd., Culver City; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; thru Nov. 2. (310) 428-6502. Written 10/9/2003 (Lovell Estell III)
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