An American businessman (Daniel Jenkins) with a shady past travels to China to seal a lucrative deal for his sign-making business, and soon realizes that much more than language gets lost in translation. Like Dorothy in Oz, he meets a colourful menagerie of characters, each one a crouching tiger with a hidden agenda – a gorgeous femme fatale (Oon Shu An), a three-faced politician (Adrian Pang), and a series of increasingly incompetent interpreters. As our dis-Orientated hero falls helplessly into intrigue with dodgy business partners, and hopelessly into bed with mysterious sleeping partners, he finds that this is business as un-usual as it could possibly get.
Performed in English & Mandarin, Chinglish is thrilling, topical and timely – a wildly funny comedy of errors and a cunningly astute comedy of manners that pokes fun at the West’s frenzied flirtation with China
“Pangdemonium, one of the best theatre companies in Singapore, has picked Chinglish to be its last show of the year...Pangdemonium's cast is excellent, with Dan Jenkins giving a heartfelt lead performance; Oon Shu An sizzling as the sexy snake of a vice minister; Matt Grey impresses with his confident and unshowy performance and firm command of Mandarin; Adrian Pang and Audrey Luo, in multiple roles, lend strong comic support; TV host Gio Liang oozes charm in a cameo role...
Tracie Pang's direction is reliably solid, the parsing of linguistic structures and expressions gives Chinglish its best moments...scenes where Daniel and the vice minister take pains to communicate despite his zero knowledge of Mandarin and her broken English are perfectly rendered...Set designer Eucien Chia deserves mention for his revolving stage that whisks the audience from one location to another instantly.”
“A devilishly comedic Pangdemonium production fuelled by hilarious mistranslations, highly comical characters, and, more poignantly, cultural differences that subtly yet hysterically highlights the dichotomy between two powerhouses (China and America)...no easy feat to perfectly imitate all the nuances and subtleties of a foreign accent and also having toact well with it. It was thus a pleasant surprise when the main cast did exactly that, despite working with a language that most of them were not intimately familiar with...
At the climax, the crux of the issue was brought out very poignantly and beautifully. amidst all the hilarity, there is the real and prominent issue of the cultural differences between two vastly different countries. It also effectively erases, or at least, gives us a lot to ponder about with regard to the usual stereotypes that we attribute to the Mainland Chinese. In particular, in the Singaporean context, it certainly gives us food-for-thought, as this theme fits in nicely within our multi-racial and cultural society, reminding us that there is more than meets the eye behind the many stereotypes.”
“It is in the moments that Chinglish transcends the language barrier that we see the true heart of the story. Particularly arresting are the interactions between Daniel Jenkins’ Cavanaugh and the sleek, self-confident Vice-Minister Xi Yan, played beautifully by Oon Shu Ann. Their exchanges are more about each character: the haughty Xi Yan only expresses her true thoughts in the language she knows he cannot understand, while he speaks English to her with an earnestness that practically begs to be understood. Caught in the presence of foreign-ness, each finds a curious, limited freedom.
Watching Chinglish was an interesting experience as a Chinese Singaporean. Watching the back-and-forth of both hopelessly confused sides, I found myself straddling that divide; understanding both languages as well as appreciating where each culture is coming from. In Adrian Pang’s Minister Cai Guoliang I was surprised to find characteristics I recognise in my Chinese-born father – the affable bravado, the agreeableness (even when you know you can’t quite deliver) and, most amusingly, the way he answers calls. While neither a child of America nor of China, there were many moments within the play in which I felt able to relate to both.
And perhaps that comes from the core of the play: beneath all the language mix-ups and culture clashes lies a shared humanity of friendship, ambition, desire and even isolation and fear that we can all understand.”
“Pangdemonium's very competent production...all the sharp jokes are delivered with zing...with a basic knowledge of Mandarin, may of the play's subtler jokes and enjoyable wordplay come to light...buoyed by a solid cast who show great affection for their characters, Chinglish tries to move us from laughing at mistranslations to loving them, and we do...A delight!”
“Entertaining romp through the sometimes wild and zany world that is business in China...especially in a country like Singapore, where most people are fairly familiar with both English and Chinese, that this play works particularly well...
Pangdemonium has assembled yet another particularly stellar cast for this production, with Daniel Jenkins and Oon Shu An ably carrying the bulk of the load, while Matt Grey blows everyone’s socks off with the considerable fluency of his Mandarin; The set design by Eucien Chia – probably one of the more beautiful ones I’ve seen in awhile, of the many backdrops I’ve seen, this one is easily one of the most memorable.”
“The cast of Chinglish is a strong one...Audrey Luo stealing the show with her side-splitting impressions of three different translators...Matt Grey won over the crowd with his fluent Mandarin, specially learnt for the production. Daniel Jenkins further charmed the audience...
The play was well-served with a beautiful set and multimedia screens cleverly built in...tickets for the entire run have been sold out, and it is heartening to see Singapore's theatre scene blossoming in vibrancy.”
David Henry Hwang
Guo Liang (MediaCorp Artiste)
Oon Shu An
Drama Centre Theatre
9 - 25 Oct 2016
Power To The People
“CHINGLISH was a fabulous laugh riot! Pangdemonium further demonstrates their wonderful range by tackling this hilarious and thought-provoking comedy of manners and miscommunication. Director Tracie Pang once again shows her versatility, and more than rises to the challenge of helming a piece that's 50% in a foreign language. She expertly balances the plentiful belly laughs with moments of poignancy, and gets her hard-working cast to bring out the most and the best in the writing.
One of the many things that makes Pangdemonium outstanding is that they always take risks and never "play safe" - for example, they should be applauded for their continued efforts to push actors out of their comfort zones in order to embrace unfamiliar languages and accents. What an exciting and eclectic 2015 Season they have given us, and I cannot wait for their 2016 Season of Love. Pangdemonium is continually proving that they are the most exciting theatre company in action in Singapore today.”
“Brilliant entertainment! This year, Pangdemonium brought us a bittersweet comic character study (Circle Mirror Transformation), a powerfully emotion-shredding and enlightening family drama (Tribes), and now they hit us with, without a doubt, the funniest play I have seen in ages - Chinglish.
Director Tracie Pang has done a wonderful job once again, bringing out excellent performances from her cast, and mercilessly teasing out laugh after laugh, then blind-siding us with a sobering exposition of human frailty and folly. Brilliant job, Pangdemonium. I am so looking forward to your 2016 Season!”
“Pangdemonium's productions have been consistently of the highest quality in every way. But what I'm particularly struck by is how director Tracie Pang has always orchestrated the bigger picture skilfully, while expertly bringing out the very best performances in her respective casts, collectively and individually. From heart wrenching stories like Rabbit Hole and emotional roller-coaster musicals like Next to Normal, to caustic comedies like Fat Pig and localised feel-good fare like Little Voice, to powerful and poignant dramas like Frozen and Tribes, and now a satirical laugh-fest like Chinglish (with Oon Shu An impressively flexing acting muscles hitherto undiscovered).
Tracie Pang takes bold risks with her casting choices, challenging and guiding her actors to gift us with career-best performances. She truly demonstrates what it means to be an "actor's director". Bravo!”
“Fat Pig made me guffaw guiltily, Little Voice made me gasp in awe, Frozen gave me nightmares, Circle Mirror made me call my estranged father, Tribes made me open my (teary) eyes and ears to another world, and now Chinglish made me laugh my butt off. But most importantly every single Pangdemonium production makes me THINK and FEEL and want to DO something to make life - my own and that of those around me - more meaningful.
Pangdemonium, please keep busting my gut, breaking my heart, blowing my mind, and kicking my ass!”
“Masterful. Surprising. Sold out...I almost gagged because one of my meetings in Beijing was being played out onstage. All the talk about "guanxi" is real when doing business in China - it is tedious and intricate. And this play captured that well. The staging was intimate and effective.
What lifted the play was the smart interpretation of the script and the casting. Oon Shu An was sharp and spot on; the breakout star was Audrey Luo.”
“I am a fan girl! The show was hilarious: what we do for love, ambition and self-preservation. If you can score a ticket to the sold-out run, then enjoy the intoxicating story.
Cross culture. Bi-culture. Challenges. Shenanigans.”
“Pangdemonium's production of Chinglish is a hilariously laugh-out-loud riot. Truly a play worth watching. Despite it being written in America, I find that this play has a lot of resonance here in Singapore.
Thanks to the people at Pangdemonium for an interesting season and this final production of the year certainly was a good choice.”
“Awesome production by Pangdemonium. It was fantastic to see a diverse cast working so well together on such a refreshing contemporary script for the stage with a nice homage to Asian values too. Masterful set design.
Great easter eggs hidden in the show for those who know their pop culture! Excellent work, Pangdemonium!”
“Another wonderful production by Pangdemonium, rounding off their brilliant Transformation Trilogy! Chinglish was an absolute abdominal workout from all the laughter. A thrilling and witty play expertly directed by Tracie Pang, and performed by an excellent cast.
Thank you for all the hard work! I am SO looking forward to their 2016 Season of Love!”
“Caught Chinglsih for the comedy, but what i took away was that, as someone who speaks English most of the time, I used to feel like everyone should speak English too.
However it is important to remember that not everyone's first language is English, and we should all be a little more understanding towards each other. Shows are all sold out but you can try your luck.
Pangdemonium are doing RENT next season - OMG!!!”