Saturday, January 31, 2015

Opening Night at F.O.B. - Synergy and Samosas!

Mu Performing Arts just opened their production of F.O.B. last night, January 30. The show, which is playing at Mixed Blood Theatre, runs through February 15.

I wasn't familiar with the play going in, other than knowing that F.O.B. meant "Fresh Off the Boat" and referred to recent immigrants. David Henry Hwang's play debuted in 1979, and the immigrants here are recent and not-so-recent arrivals to Los Angeles from China.

In the course of the three-character play, set in a Chinese restaurant, we hear about the experiences of immigration in different eras and the levels of distinction from the F.O.B.s to those who have been in the country for years to A.B.C.s - American-Born Chinese. The play also involves Chinese gods and heroes, who have their own struggles.

Although I didn't necessarily get all the connections in this play, particularly between the realistic and mythic realms, it was beautifully performed by Michael Sung-Ho, Meghan Kreidler, and Randy Reyes, who also directed. The sound and lighting, along with the acting, made the larger-than-life characters come to life, which was a lot to accomplish in a brief, 70-minute play.

Mu toured this production to Chinese restaurants around the state last summer, and now that they're playing in a theater space, they've brought the restaurant with them. For an additional $6, you can add to your ticket an individual takeout box of noodles to eat at your seat! It looked like a good number of people took up that offer on opening night.

The theater is partnering with three Chinese restaurants to bring in food for the shows. January 30-February 1, the catering is by the ChinDian Cafe. February 5-8 is Keefer Court Bakery & Cafe, and February 12-15 will feature food from the Tea House. Each Saturday night, the restaurateurs will also participate in a post-play discussion.

One of my favorite things about seeing this show is the amount of collaboration and cooperation happening. Mu is performing in Mixed Blood's theater, they are partnering with all of these local eateries, and there's a display in the theater on Chinese immigrants in Minnesota that was put together by the Minnesota Historical Society. And on opening night, they had more food from ChinDian, wine (which I didn't catch the provenance of), and beer from Town Hall Brewing. It's just great to see the synergy, and I hope it catches on with other theaters.

I think I'd better read up on the show and what it's all about, but that's something I appreciate in theater--a show that makes me want to learn more.