Translating Chinglish

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I have a problem. I admit it. I can’t stop going to theater productions. If there is a show I will figure out a way to go and then I will dissect it, comparing it to the shows I’ve worked on and seen before. I will continue until the poor soul I’ve dragged with me wishes that they could give me a cardboard cut out to talk to and go on their merry way.  The Berkeley Rep’s production of Chinglish was no exception. Chinglish enjoyed a successful run on Broadway and the Berkeley Rep’s production does the incredibly funny script justice. Chinglish is about an American businessman who comes to China to try and revitalize his sign production company by doing better translations. Chinglish is unpresumptuous, letting its audience enjoy it both for the poignant cultural discussion of how in a global world we communicate, as well as the hilarity that comes with imperfect translation.

The play manages to take on the economic and culturally relevant subject of the United States and China’s role in the manufacturing industry as well as their place in the world. A recurring theme in the play is the notion of power between the characters, and it shifts frequently and usually within one conversation.

Marriage expectations and differences between the two countries are also played out, letting us see relationship dynamics, and understand that love can get even more complicated when two cultures collide.

Chinglish confronts the multicultural, globalized society we’ve become while still managing to be a hilarious poignant piece of theater. Don’t miss the beautiful acting, incredible set, and hilarious Chinese pop that accompanies scene changes. The production has been extended through October 21st, and offers half price tickets for those under the age of thirty.

Giselle Waters

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