Asians in America--Again, North Avenue Productions, at Japanese American Service Committee. This collection of ten pieces--monologues, short plays, and sketches--succeeds as a showcase of Asian-American playwrights. Quincy Wong's "A.A."--a monologue by a man telling his story at "Asians Anonymous"--is both humorous and insightful. Greg Nishimura's "Jeopardy" and "Asians" deftly lampoon stereotypes, and his "Food" is a potentially funny, thought-provoking piece about a Japanese-American discovering his roots in an ethnic grocery store. But Li Wen Huang's "Beautiful Country," highlighting differences between an immigrant mother and her American-born daughter, and Steve Baz and J.J. Pido's "Car Lot," comparing culture through cuisine, fail to communicate anything new.
Unfortunately even the best-written pieces here suffer from poor direction, acting, or both. These playwrights need to stop directing and/or performing in their own works, which were often marred by erratic blocking, pedestrian pacing, and ineffectual characterizations. Even the three works that were not staged by the writer were hindered by odd or uninspired directorial choices. Of the eight ensemble members, Huang, Wong, and Niki Lindgren gave some good performances, and Nishimura earned a few deserved laughs. But what this evening needs is a director who'll enhance its dramatic impact and comic effect.