CAPSULE: The subject is the high rate of depression and suicide among Asian-American women. And that is about as far as this taped one-woman show goes. If it is a call to action it is really unclear what action is called for. The one-woman is Kristina Wong and she has performed this show several places in the United States. But the show is little more than a lament embedded in irrelevant material. There is no remedial action offered. Rating: 0 (-4 to +4) or 4/10
Asian-American women apparently have high rates of depression and even of suicide. That is paradoxical since they do have high education and income rates. Kristina Wong's stage play gets that across to the audience very quickly. What anyone can do about it is not part of her message. Some of her approach is getting her audience to make howling noises while she walks around wearing a bra outside her dress and throwing skeins of yarn at them. It is a novel approach, but not one that is especially likely to be fruitful. One would expect that Wong would be just bubbling over with information about the depression epidemic, but her presentation is short on facts and statistics.
At the beginning of the act she announces that she does not have depression, nor does her family, nor do her acquaintances. And, in addition she makes the point very clearly that what she says in the show is F*I*C*T*I*O*N. And she calls for everyone in the audience to repeat "F*I*C*T*I*O*N." When she shows little impressions of depressed women, we have been forewarned that this is all F*I*C*T*I*O*N. Well, I suppose UNCLE TOM'S CABIN was fiction also, but it is not nearly as effective as the fact that the author will stand behind. It takes Wong a long time to get to her subject. We do learn something about story structure, but somehow it does not do a lot for her message. Her delivery is high-speed and breathless so she could be giving us a lot of information, but she is more likely to play with yarn on the stage than talk about the problem. She throws in some humor and much of that is shock vulgarity. She is more likely to be out in the audience petting an audience member's hair than she is to get to the point. There are little snatches of acting as she gives her impression of some depressed Asian women. She apparently has some information about who these people are that is flashed on a screen at the back of the stage, but on the video there is usually someone in the way so that the video viewer cannot read it. A lot of time is taken up with her singing off-key or giving her impression (in the style of WHEN HARRY MET SALLY) of a sexual climax that goes on and on.
Along the way Kristen tells us autobiographical anecdotes about how she wanted to be one of a lucky few who would get some free psychological therapy and how she treated it like she was trying out for the part of a very depressed woman. She wanted to be sure that she got the therapy and not someone with less acting skill. Then she recounts how useless the therapy really was to her. But she considers Asian-American female depression her subject and warns others away from her awards and grant money. I think if I were a depressed Asian-American woman this show would only make me more so. Publicity for this film seems to indicate that Kristina Wong's show has been very successful on the stage. Perhaps it really needs the immediacy of live theater.
Wong claims to have a solution to all this depression, but just before she is going to give it she is interrupted and cannot finish her message. Kristina Wong in this film gives Asian American depressed females one more thing to be depressed about. The problem is real, but this stage show about the problem is not. I rate the film WONG FLEW OVER THE CUCKOOS NEST a frustrated 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 4/10. The film was released on DVD and VOD on November 26, 2013.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1587387/combined
Mark R. Leeper Copyright 2013 Mark R. Leeper