The Fu Manchu Complex, a play by Daniel York, will premiere at Ovalhouse 1 – 19 October 2013. Directed by Justin Audibert (Artistic Associate of HighTide and Associate of Told By An Idiot), this new work centres on the eponymous character in Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu novels, the first of which was published 100 years ago in 1913.
Subverting the anti-Chinese views and ‘Yellow Peril’ stereotype presented in these novels, Daniel York’s debut play is a satirical take on British cultural representations of East Asian figures. Five British East Asian actors will ‘white up’ to play the English characters in the production.
In this surreal and comic melodrama Fu Manchu – an evil Chinese genius with a predilection for cruel methods of torture – hatches a plot to turn the entire Western world ‘Chinese’ through genetically engineered fungal poisoning. The thoroughly English duo Dr Petrie and Inspector Nayland Smith fight to defend Britain’s Empire from this fate.
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 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?
In conjunction with the play’s run at Ovalhouse, a series of discussions on and surrounding this topic will be held in September and October 2013. These include a debate on the current state of British East Asian theatre and its future, and a discussion of literary and filmic representations of 1920s Chinese London.
Daniel York said: “It is now time for East Asians to participate in mainstream UK theatre and therefore mainstream British life. We have opened the door and now we need to keep it open. By busting stereotypes, challenging clichés… and having serious fun in the process.”
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