Thursday, April 11, 2024

"Tiger Style!" ★

Mike Lew's "Tiger Style" hits some familiar and resounding notes, especially for Chinese-American audiences. Based on Amy Chua's memoir, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," Lew's take on parenting, expectations that parents have for their children, and, for their part, the children's inability to ever live up to those expectations, will ring many bells for the audience.

This is a homecoming for Francis Jue, who plays four different roles, including the happily-suburban Dad. Jue is a well-respected veteran of Bay Area theater, as is Emily Kuroda, who is given four different roles herself, including Dragon Mom. Will Dao and Jenny Nguyen Nelson play the confused adult children, Albert and Jenny, who are filled with angst and analysis, while their parents seem to float serenely along, happy to have moved up in the world. 

Truth is, Dad actually makes a lot of sense and Mom doesn't seem at all like a dragon. Ah, kids today.

Blaming their parents doesn't work. So, of course, the next thing to do is...go to China. Waddayaknow! They discover they're not in Kansas anymore.

For this reviewer, this show is meant to be both slapstick and meaningful, which is a hard line upon which to balance. Albert and Jenny's plight would be understandable if it weren't for the unbelievably moronic anglo characters, all played by Jeremy Kahn like Jeff Daniels in "Dumb and Dumber." There is no way either Albert or Jenny or even the playwright could take these doofuses seriously. 

Racism is everywhere, on all sides. Albert's boss, Melvin, played by Jue, is determined to bend over backwards to impress and promote Albert's anglo rival, Russ the Bus. OK, we get it. 

Albert wants the American Dream and Jenny wants the American Rom-Com. But they act like entitled children. They end up in a Chinese prison. And then they don't. And then they get to declare their independence -- to a Customs Agent.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division grants "Tiger Style" One Star. But bear in mind we are not Asian. On the other hand, we're not  Black either and we found Jenny's lapsing into black pop dialogue, well...not very nice. This may not bother others -- the audience seemed to laugh at jokes that went over our heads. Clearly, we are not the demographic audience for  "Tiger Style!"

"Tiger Style!" 
Mountain View Center for Performing Arts
500 Castro Street, Mountain View
Through April 24, 2024

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