Friday, February 09, 2007

Jewbiquitous Outing: The Jaded Assassin

I don't know if this qualifies as a Jewbiquitous outing, as Harley didn't go. Harley did go out to see something else, and so I'll try to convince her to blog about it later. I went to see The Jaded Assassin with CJ, and CJ's best friend, my upstairs neighbor. We brought the upstairs neighbor because he loves all things immortality, and CJ had hoped that this show would have some of that. Nope.

You know what it did have? Shadow puppets, and marionettes. According to Alicia of So Aunty, this show is "unmissable." I would disagree. It was fun, and probably worth a little less than the $15 we (read: CJ) paid, but not unmissable. The Gothamist has a short blurb on the play, and repeats a Times quote that was also featured on the playbill: "Take that, ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’!" Sadly the review is locked within the "Times Select" for which I am too cheap to pay. I kind of want to see the context for that statement.

At any rate, I had a fabulous time, laughed a lot (although it dragged in the middle) making snarky comments about the self-conciously campy "dialogue" (most of it takes place through a narrator, with some exceptions), the main character's costume (which was definitely from lululemon), and how the narrator had some "junk in the trunk." For the record, that last observation was made by CJ and the upstairs neighbor, both of whom tried to disavow it later.


Random Fight Scene

These two videos give a pretty good idea of what the play/show/thingy was like, but the trailer makes it seem far more exciting. The beginning and end were good, but there were about 20 minutes that were pretty boring. To be fair, the music was absolutely terrific, and the show demonstrated every type of puppetry that I could imagine.

Here was the major downside: while the performance was funny and good-natured, it mixed a number of different Asian styles, presumably on the theory that they're all interchangeable. The main character's name is "Soon-Ja" which sounds Korean, the martial art looks like a mix of Kung-Fu and Tai Kwon Do, yet at the end, Soon-Ja speaks Mandarin Chinese.

"Pan-Asian" is one of my pet peeves. While China, Japan, and Korea all have intertwined history, so do Germany, Italy, and France. China is a country of over 1 billion people. A billion! There are hundreds of different ethnicities and languages, each have their own traditions, costume, and some even have their own religions. To lump them all together is absolutely ludicrous. I find that people do this with Central/South America too. As if Puerto Ricans and Argentinians are the same, just because they are from "South America."

Sorry that this doesn't really have anything to do with Jews.


dash said...

here's the review you wanted:

The first decapitation gets a laugh. So do the cast's open mouths, frozen as if they were on mannequins painted while speaking about something upsetting. The shadow puppets are hits. But ''The Jaded Assassin,'' Michael Voyer's innovative martial-arts fantasy, is all about the battles.

It's not unusual to go to the theater these days and see a fight choreographer listed in the program. It is strange, however, to see a show that consists of almost nothing but that person's work.

In the case of ''The Jaded Assassin,'' the final presentation in the Ice Factory 2006 festival, the fight choreography is by Rod Kinter. And it is entirely appropriate that in the program his name comes right after that of the director (Timothy Haskell, who is also credited with having conceived the production).

There is a plot to go with the kicks, jumps, falls and rolls. The Narrator (Laine D'Souza) recounts a long, complicated tale about a rich, arrogant tribe of warriors who were virtually wiped out by a plague. The only remaining member is Soon-Jal (Jo-anne Lee), who seems to be the title character. After her true love, Li (David Solomon Rodriguez), is killed, Soon-Jal, hit woman for the rich and famous, has encounters with a gentle servant (Aaron Haskell), a wizard (Nick Arens) and the monstrous Rektor (John Ficarra), who is out to get Soon-Jal.

But the pleasure of the show is the fighting. Martial arts fans will enjoy it most, but there is one spectacular sequence that everyone can appreciate. Just as I was thinking that an Off Broadway stage was the wrong place for this sort of thing, a slow-flash strobe began, giving the characters the appearance of flight or at least levitation. Take that, ''Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon''!

The cast shows an impressive degree of athleticism. Faye Armon's puppets are cute. And somewhere in there there's a message about humanity's dissatisfaction with only moments or hours of happiness and the dangers of being ruled by anger.

Annie said...

Thanks Dash.

And for the record, the strobe-light effect was kind of irritating, and too slow-motion. I would in no way describe this production as a competitor to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." In no way.

Christine said...

wow dash~ you sound like a ridgid pervert. meaning you only like pure bread people will skinny asses! shame I liked this play i thought is was awesome and pysical eyecandy. 2 bad you are creatively dry and too judgemental to appreciate courage. get a life an d creaste your own work...loser!

timothy said...

i am the director of this play, and i am glad you liked parts of it at least. did you see it thursday? that was our first performance and it was a bit of a technical mess,

but your pan asian comment is something i would like to address. the show is not supposed to have any specific locale or time because it is supposed to be more mystical than that like middle earth or something. we mixed styles because we used the many different techniques and skills of the combatants involved in the show. soon jal is a made up name by the by.

and she speaks cantonese at the end because that is what the actress can speak. it is utilized because it is a self conscious moment of the lack of asian faces actually in the play (which became coincidence and not by design) so i thought it would be fun to hide what is supposed to be the most poignant moment in the play in a language few can speak in the audience.

and she changes what she says every night.

bboy neo said...

first of dash you dont know squat about about martial arts or what it takes to be a martial artist and or performer. My family and i saw this play and it was great and creative and entertaining. its to bad your missing the point of the play which isnt whether soon jal isn't korean chinese or japanese. if you were expecting to see a mel gibson movie then go the movie theatre and pay mel gibson prices. I would recommend this play to any one who is opened minded and not retarted like you. in the words of the comedian carlos mencia "dee dee dee". and tim haskel is a great director.