The Fu Manchu Complex by Daniel York

2013-08-20 fu_manchu

Directed by Justin Audibert at Ovalhouse, produced by Ovalhouse & Moongate Productions in association with Mark Cartwright.

Cast: Paul Chan, Chipo Chung, Andrew Koji, Jennifer Lim, Moj Taylor

Who is Fu Manchu?  Sinister Chinaman, criminal genius, racist myth..

Challenging the ‘Yellow Peril’ racist stereotype, five East Asian actors white up to play the traditional colonials in this hilarious murder mystery in the East End, using physical comedy and the style of the Victorian music hall in a pastiche of classic British cinema.

Battling through clouds of opium, spiffing chaps Dr Petrie and Inspector Nayland Smith must do anything to stop the dastardly plans of evil criminal mastermind Dr Fu Manchu; but will their colonial angst allow them to do away with the villainous evil genius and save merry old England? And as their blundering leads them to ever more absurd conclusions, we ask, who is the real Fu Manchu?

2013 sees the hundredth anniversary of the publication of the first novel featuring Sax Rohmer’s lurid and fantastical racist creation, the evil Dr. Fu Manchu. A century on we re-examine the skewed perceptions that have arisen around this pervasive myth.

Dr. Fu Manchu is a fictional character introduced in a series of novels by British author Sax Rohmer during the first half of the 20th century. The character was also featured extensively in cinema, television, radio, comic strips and comic books for over 90 years, and has become an archetype of the “evil criminal genius” while lending the name to the Fu Manchu moustache.” (Wikipedia)

Writer Daniel York was (as a founder member of British East Asian Artists) one of the joint winners of Nee Hao’s 2012 Man & Woman Of Year award for theircourageous and ultimately successful campaign against the Royal Shakespeare Company’s decision to cast the Chinese classic The Orphan Of Zhao with a predominantly Caucasian cast. The protest led to the Arts Council/Equity sponsored Opening The Door event which saw industry leaders and East Asian theatre practitioners formulating initiatives to address the chronic lack of opportunity for East Asian performers on UK stages.

Daniel York was born of mixed Singapore Chinese/English parentage and grew up in the UK. As an actor, his theatre work in London includes Mu-lan’s award winning production of Porcelain at the Royal Court and Fortinbras opposite Alan Rickman’s Hamlet at the Riverside Studios, as well as work at the Royal Shakespeare Company and around the UK. In October he will be appearing at the National Theatre Shed in The World Of Extreme Happiness.  As a writer and director, his feature film script Beautiful Friend has been developed by Film4 and his short film, Mercutio’s Dreaming: The Killing Of A Chinese Actor, was recently nominated for four awards at the World Music & Independent Film Festival.  Last year York was selected as part of the Royal Court’s Unheard Voices initiative for emerging East Asian writers. As a result of this he was invited on to the Royal Court Studio writers’ programme.

The Fu Manchu Complex 1 – 19 October Ovalhouse from Jennifer Lim on Vimeo.

Justin Audibert is a freelance theatre director and Associate Director for Red Ladder. Recent directing credits include A Season In The Congo: Parallel Project (Clare, Young Vic),  Wrong’ Un by Boff Whalley (Red Ladder), Gruesome Playground Injuries by Rajiv Joseph (Gate Theatre), The Tempest (RSC Shakespeare in a Suitcase), Front by Vickie Donoghue (Rada Festival), Future Regrets by Roz Wyllie (live theatre / RSC), Armley The Musical by Boff Whalley (Interplay) and Company Along The Mile by Tom Bidwell (WYP / Arcola). As an Assistant Director he has worked with Greg Doran, Lucy Bailey, David Farr, Rachel Kavanaugh, Paul Hunter and Sarah Esdaile amongst others. Audibert is an Associate for Told By An Idiot, an Artistic Associate of HighTide Theatre Festival and has directed at numerous drama schools including Drama Centre, GSA and ArtsEd.  He has worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company as an Education Associate Practitioner in the UK, the United States and Brazil. In 2012 Audibert was the Acting Coach for the finalists of BBC 2’s Shakespeare Off By Heart. He has been Resident Director at the National Theatre Studio, and was the recipient of the 2012 Leverhulme Award for Emerging Directors. Justin trained on the Birkbeck MFA in Theatre Directing.

Paul Chan has appeared in numerous stage productions as well as Kenneth Branagh’s As You Like It. Chipo Chung has appeared in numerous occasions for the acclaimed Out Of Joint theatre, as well as at the National Theatre and on TV in Dr. Who. Andrew Koji was recently in The Arrest Of Ai Wei Wei at Hampstead Theatre. Jennifer Lim was in the cult horror classic Hostel (exec produced by Quentin Tarantino) as well as in the recent Wild Swans at the Young Vic. Moj Taylor is an acclaimed stand-up comedian and regular performer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Rip-roaringly funny and outrageously irreverent this production promises to be as funny and entertaining as a cross between Blackadder and The League Of Gentlemen as well as thought-provoking and illuminating on the way East Asians have traditionally been perceived in the Western media world. Along with the play there are all sorts of additional (and mainly free) events including academic discussion seminars, an installation exhibition and a music & poetry evening featuring Stephanie Dogfoot Chan.

The play runs from October 1st-19th.

All details on the Ovalhouse website: Click here

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