Theatre review: Beijing Cake
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: Beijing Cake at theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39B), reviewed by Sue Wilson
The central premise behind this new satirical comedy, by young US author Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, is an ingeniously promising one. With China poised to take over as the leading global superpower, Nalebuff depicts an American immigrant, Lori, seeking a better life in the People’s Republic and doing her utmost to assimilate, thereby inverting her nation’s founding narrative.
Pregnant when she arrives, unable to speak the language, and swiftly single after the boyfriend back home dumps her, Lori determines to raise her son as an ordinary Chinese child – an aim that naturally throws up considerably greater challenges than she naïvely anticipates, despite (or because of) the scenes where she channels the ghost of Mao Zedong for advice.
With three of the four-strong cast juggling multiple roles, and the frequent use of jump cut-style switches between timescales, locations and levels of reality, the miscommunications and mistranslations driving the action often prove decidedly confusing for the audience as well as the characters; while a mishmash of theatrical styles – from naturalistic to manically cartoonish – also adds to the overall disjointedness which largely obscures that inventive underlying agenda.
Until tomorrow. Today 6:10pm
Originally published in The Scotsman