Theatre review: Beijing Cake

Beijing Cake  Fringe 2013 show. Pic: Comp
Beijing Cake Fringe 2013 show. Pic: Comp
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WRITER Rachel Kauder Nalebuff comes onstage at The Space on the Mile to introduce the premise of this absurdist piece: American and Chinese people are quite different, which can sometimes result in amusing misunderstandings.

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The Space on the Mile

She explains that she herself was brought up in China, a fact which only partially mitigates the uncomfortable spectacle of an all-American cast skating uncertainly round the edge of Chinese caricature.

Lori, a pregnant American diplomat, moves to Beijing. Her relationship back home unravels, leaving her to raise the baby in totalitarian China which, to her, is preferable to the America which symbolises her betrayal through its decadence. Baby, meanwhile, grows up conflicted by his American identity.

The cast, just out of Yale and here thanks to a successful crowd-sourced fundraising campaign in the States, are suitably fresh and enthusiastic and show some decent comic timing. They give every impression of believing in the material but that faith feels misplaced.

There’s a promising early moment when the ghost of Chairman Mao comes on, shaking audience members’ hands while insulting their corrupt western ways, and a couple of nice gags towards the end.

In between, despite the short running time, it’s a bit of a slog, the main absurdity being that it provokes neither laughter nor thought.

Until tomorrow