Saturday, February 19, 2011

Last Chance to Watch "The Joy Luck Club"

I collect (and read, of course!) Amy Tan's books. The Joy Luck Club was my first Tan novel. I bought it many years ago because I enjoyed watching the movie version and wanted to see how much was changed in the screenplay. There were differences but the main theme remained, the complex, and yet intimate, relationship between mothers and daughters.

I got to watch Repertory Philippines' version of The Joy Luck Club last night. It was amazing how majority of the performers (excluding the daughters who were supposedly raised in America) were able to adopt Chinese accents. I doubt if all of them grew up in Chinese households but those who had to sound Chinese, did!

The play is about four Chinese immigrants and their four American-born daughters. The mothers belong to a mahjong group where the title of the story was based. Members of the audience get to understand the lives of each pair as the tale unfolds.

Like in the book and the movie, the play was able to convey tender scenes that sometimes become funny and other times, heart-wrenching. Definitely, The Joy Luck Club is a rich showcase of how complex love is between mothers and daughters regardless of age and cultural gaps.

The exceptional cast is composed of Pinky Marquez (An-Mei Hsu), Lily Chu (Lena St. Clair), Ana Abad Santos (Jing-Mei Woo), Rebecca Chuaunsu (Suyuan Woo), Cris Villonco (Waverly Jong), Jay Glorioso (Ying-Ying St. Clair), Jenny Jamora (Rose Hsu Jordan) and Frances Makil (Lindo Jong).

I like their creative use of minimal stage props (that are easily moved) complemented by appropriate sounds such as the opening and closing of doors, fireworks, etc. as well as good lighting.

It's also nice how the flashbacks were executed. They didn't have to bring in other people to play the mothers' younger selves. They just made use of quick clothing changes that I think helped viewers focus better on each character. Most of all, I admire the cast members for memorizing so many (and I mean, many!) long lines which had to be sometimes uttered rapidly.

I may not agree with, nor understand, some of the ways how Chinese mothers raise their children but this I am sure of, mothers will always want the best for their kids.

I leave you with my favorite quote from The Joy Luck Club which I am glad was kept in both movie and play versions: "This feather may look worthless, but it comes from afar and carries with it all my good intentions."

The Joy Luck Club still has two performances tomorrow, Sunday, at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. For ticket inquiries and other information, call Repertory Philippines at 571-6926 and 571-4941, call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or buy tickets from
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