Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


Yellow Face
Firescape Theatre
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's reviews of Pride and Prejudice, the Musical, King Charles III, and What They Said About Love


Jeffrey Sun and Alfonso Faustino
Photo by
Firescape Theatre, a relatively new theatre company in the Bay Area, along with Beverly Hills Playhouse of San Francisco, is currently presenting David Henry Hwang's theatrical faux-memoir Yellow Face, an inventive blend of fact and fiction in which the playwright highlights the subtle nature of racial politics.

Blackface was a humiliating, politically incorrect, once prevalent practice of having a white actor blacken his or her skin to play a typecast African or African-American character. Yellowface is similar, singularly applied to Asian Americans: White actors use makeup to play Asian characters, denying Asian actors opportunities. (Example: David Wayne as Sakini in the 1953 production of The Teahouse of the August Moon and Marlon Brando in the same role in the 1957 film version.)

Seven actors enter the bare stage and sit on chairs. DHH (Jeffrey Sun) comes stage forward and recounts his role as a voice against the Broadway staging of Cameron Macintosh's

Miss Saigon which starred caucasian actor Jonathan Pryce as The Engineer. Others join him in this debate, quoting others, including DHH's father, a successful California banker who was the first Asian American to be granted a federal bank charter, Mark Linn-Baker, B.D. Wong, and even the late Senator Fred Thompson.

DHH talks about his play Face Value, which lasted for only eight preview performances on Broadway, in which the playwright mistakenly cast caucasian actor Marcus G. Dahlman (Roman Moretti) in the Asian role. After realizing his mistake he tried desperately to save his own face by passing Marcus off as a "Siberian Jew."

Jeffrey Sun as the director and DHH and the cast keep the play entertaining at all times. Sun is excellently contemplative as DHH. Roman Moretti is charismatic as the young actor Marcus. Alfonso Faustino almost steals the show as DHH's expansive, ultra-capitalist father. Krista Muir, John Pendergast, Duncan Heath, and Krista Muir do outstanding work in the two-hour production.

Yellowface runs through October 30, 2016, 414 Mason Street, just off Union Square, Suite 505, San Francisco on Fridays and Saturdays. For tickets and other information, visit bhpsanfrancisco.com/shows. Coming up next is the Firescape Theatre and Beverly Hills Playhouse production of Allen Barton's Years to the Day starting November 4th for one weekend only.


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