untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon

Reviewer's rating

Expect ferocious humour and acting grounded in raw truthfulness in this Young Vic production of Kimber Lee’s Untitled F*ck M*ss S*gon Play.

This one hour 50 minute no interval play, addresses topical and important messages concerning inherited trauma and the historical pastiche of the ‘oriental other’, pervasive within Western literature. Directed by Roy Alexander Weise the play highlights this historical pastiche by showing us with remorseless humour, its use across multiple celebrated productions, including Madame Butterfly and the Korean war comedy M*A*S*H. Throughout these presentations, Rochelle Rose delivers omnipotent narration and critique from the wings. Rose’s narration is particularly humorous when Clark (Tom Weston-Jones) who plays the dashing western colonising soldier speaks across the various stereotypical iterations in commonly known Asian non-sequiturs, notable mentions would be his response to questions like ‘what are you doing here?’ with ‘mochi’ or ‘nigiri’. This comedic tour de force precedes a display of the contemporary interactions of East Asian and Polynesian communities these stereotypes have influenced.

‘Mei Mac gives powerful and evocative performances’

The cast led by protagonist Kim, played by Mei Mac, gives powerful and evocative performances, not skimping on any of the plentiful comedy the script provides. Jeff D’Sangalang as Goro and Afi particularly impresses, with the skilled range to play a hardened New York fishmonger and a Harvard business school graduate cuckold masterfully, embodying each distinctly only minutes apart. Perhaps this highlights the dichotomy of Asian-American perception.  These representations are strengthened by the playful and creative lighting design of Joshua Pharo, who manages to develop dramatic tension and humour through expert lighting design. In a pivotal moment of self-realisation for Kim, the action is crosscut skilfully and a somewhat haunting glow lights the rest of the cast.

Despite the excellent acting and interesting material, the play grapples with, the production does at times oversimplify its powerful and relevant moments. Perhaps all messages do need to be simplified to some extent, but this can also detract from the highly complex issues the play addresses and may neglect  the space to be fully explored. While the core message of the play remains clear, the production at points makes forays into adjacent issues without always fleshing out their relevance or significance to the advancement of the main storyline.

By the finale, we are certainly entertained, but we are also left a little hungry, hungry to know more about the complexity and truth of the experience established.