Reviewed by Matt Ritchey
There are no rules for solo shows and the ones that break solo conventions usually reap the rewards, especially if the way the subject matter is addressed is passionate, unique, and smart.
J. Elijah Cho’s Mr. Yunioshi is all three.
Cho plays Mickey Rooney, famous Award-Winning actor, as he decides whether to take a role in the new film Breakfast At Tiffany’s. The dramatic irony, of course, is that Rooney is infamous for playing the role of “Mr. Yunioshi” in that film with an over-the-top stereotype seemingly based only on World War II racist cartoon characters. The purpose of now doing a show where an Asian-American plays Rooney…. Is so well explained in the play itself that I won’t do Mr. Cho the disservice of ruining it here.
Suffice it to say that the intent, the writing, and the performance are extraordinary and very, very funny. The show drips with dramatic irony and the audience laps it up. Mr. Rooney is only one of the characters in the show and Mr. Cho handles all of them simply and brilliantly. As the story progresses, we get great insight and details about Rooney’s research and even how the studio system worked. As well-done as the show is, there’s no reason to assume anything brought up in the show is anything but factual, and that makes it all the more surprising, funny, and, dare I say, shameful. Comedy is an excellent way to make uncomfortable discussions work, and Mr. Cho has done an incredible job continuing this one.
“Mr. Yunioshi” is an inspired idea, an expertly-written play, and feels surprisingly healing.
Very Highly Recommended
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