September 2005

Banana Boys
adapted by Leon Aureus From the Terry Woo novel
September 22 – October 16, 2005 • Factory Theatre • Toronto
Bananas To You
by David Fujino
'Banana boys' is a pejorative.

Banana Boys is the name of the play adapted from Terry Woo's hit novel of the same name.

Banana means an Asian who's 'yellow on the outside, white inside'.

'Banana' means an Asian trying to make it in a white world, playing by the white world's rules, like the banana boys in this play, who are desperately struggling to find out who they are, and what they want to do with their lives.

The central guy — the 'Big Banana' — is Rick, played commandingly by Richard Lee. Rick's a successful B.Comm graduate. He lives in a condo and drives a BMW. Rick's the over-achieving 'leader' in this group of 20-something Asian guys.

Left: David Yim, Back: Richard Lee, Right: David Yee,
Centre: In-Surp Choi
Rick's four buddies, the banana boys Michael, Sheldon, Luke and Dave, tend to look up to Rick in various ways for most of the play because Rick has 'made it' by many of this society's standards.

The play, Banana Boys, is like a reverse zoom shot, starting with the death of Rick and ending up "at the beginning", says Michael Chao (played by Derek Kwan), tapping away on his typewriter at play's end, as if he were Terry Woo writing his originary novel.

As the play's characters throw around 'C**nk', and spit out the term, 'F.O.B's' (Fresh Off the Boat) and 'Slant', and numerous other racial slurs, I've got to say it's distinctly bracing to hear this out loud, on a stage. This is some examination going on.

Love (does it matter?) and love matters, are painfully examined by the cell phone carrying Sheldon, played beautifully by a constrained Dale Yim.

Luke (as played by the polymorphously gender-flexible, In-Surp Choi) is a real independent DJ and gamer-type who eventually decides to take his skills to Vancouver.

And Dave, as played by actor/playwright David Yee, projects an edgy and watchable sense of menace.

Banana Boys comes right at you like a hectic MTV video. The play's structured so the five characters and their stories get shuffled and reshuffled into dynamic, dramatically interesting combinations.

This fu-GEN production's very theatrical, in a good way, and the actors' confidence is high and in your face.

Banana Boys is not just Asian Canadian theatre. "Banana Boys" is good theatre.

We welcome your comments and feedback
• • • • • •
Report by David Fujino
• •
for The Live Music Report

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