Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Back to the Graveyard": ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

Samantha Chanse threw herself a going-away party at Footloose Studios this weekend -- she is leaving the company to pursue a bicoastal lifestyle as she enrolls in Columbia University's Play Writing MFA program.

From the looks of things on stage Saturday night, Ms. Chanse will be able to teach them New York city slickers a few things too. Her four-character show "Back to the Graveyard" included bits as a self-inflated MC named Truth is Real, the poet herself, a father who can't quite accept that his son is gay, even though he's in medical school, and the marvelous Suzette, a depressed 19-year-old who has been forced into doing the color commentary on the poet's show. The characters are all interconnected -- with a little more time this could be the basis of a fascinating one-woman show about life in 21st Century America, viewed through an Asian-American lens.

...or a biracial one. Or not. Ms. Chanse immediately tells us her own father had their family name of Chang changed to Chanse ("he couldn't even spell it right"), and her skewering of Chinese family dynamics seems spot-on, but all of her characters (Suzette especially) are universal. The bit about taking a bunch of Berkeley girls out for dim sum, to demonstrate the poet's comfort with her own Asian-American-ness, only to discover that the chicken feet made her as sick to her stomach as it did them, will resonate with everyone. And Suzette's view of the cartoon slide show is just as funny.

Suzette, especially, will be a lasting character for Ms. Chanse, though the poor Chinese-American father, unable to understand what is happening to his new-age children, is a memorable character as well.

We wish Sam Chanse the best in New York and hope to see more in the future. Much more.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Back to the Graveyard" Three Stars with a BANGLE of PRAISE. Ms. Chanse is a gifted writer and performer. We're anxious to see what comes next. The BANGLE of PRAISE is for Suzette. Maybe she'll get her own show some day?


"Back to the Graveyard"
Footloose Theater
3252-A 19th Street, San Francisco (upstairs)

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