WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link
Theatre News

British East Asian actors take centre stage in new play at Ovalhouse

Daniel York's debut play will present a 'satirical take on British cultural representations of East Asian figures', and see actors 'white up' to play English characters

Daniel York
A new play at Ovalhouse by actor/campaigner Daniel York will explore British cultural representations of East Asians.

Directed by HighTide and Told by an Idiot associate Justin Audibert, The Fu Manchu Complex centres on the eponymous character in Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu novels, the first of which was published 100 years ago.

According to press material, "Subverting the anti-Chinese views and ‘Yellow Peril' stereotype presented in these novels, Daniel York's debut play is a satirical take on British cultural representations of East Asian figures".

Five British East Asian actors will ‘white up' to play the English characters in the production.

Billed as a "surreal and comic melodrama", the play sees Fu Manchu - an evil Chinese genius with a predilection for cruel methods of torture - hatch a plot to turn the entire Western world ‘Chinese' through genetically engineered fungal poisoning.

In conjunction with the play's run at Ovalhouse, from 1 to 19 October, a series of discussions on the issues raised will be held in September and October.

These include a debate on the current state of British East Asian theatre and its future, and a discussion of literary and filmic representations of 1920s Chinese London.

Daniel York, who recently protested about the RSC's casting of The Orphan of Zhao, said: "It is now time for East Asians to participate in mainstream UK theatre and therefore mainstream British life. We have opened the door and now we need to keep it open."