I almost didn’t read this play. This week has been, well, something of a week and I’d neglected to pick up this play at the bookstore or in my shopping adventures and so I was tempted to just wikipedia it and then count this as my “ah, fuck it” quizzle.
Thanks to Christina, I started it last night… and found it so engrossing that I picked it up this morning at the bookstore and read it before class. On the surface, the play looks like it could go horribly awry. East meets West, cross-dressing, etc… but this play is just brilliantly crafted.
Part of the allure of the play was that I knew John Lithgow had been the original Gallimard and so as I read the play… he was that character. I heard and saw him in my head and that made the mental production so much smoother.
The dichotomies of the play were just so exciting and challenging – the masculinity of Gallimard, the femininity of Song… and vice versa. The parallels with the Puccini opera. There were questions about East/West and how the American presence in Vietnam might have been different if, literally, this Frenchman hadn’t fallen in love with this Chinese opera singer (because it is based on a true story!) and whether or not “filling roles” is a necessary event in our lives… again, talking about all of this stuff in Contemporary somewhat saps me and so I’ll just have to leave it at this.
This was a wonderful play – it was intelligent, it was challenging, it was funny, and it was exciting to read. I would have loved to have seen it with John Lithgow and B.D. Wong – perhaps a revival or regional production soon? One can only hope.