Untitled F*ck M*ss S**g*n Play
26 September 2023
5.0 out of 5.0 stars
Untitled F*ck M*ss S**g*n Play, currently playing at the Young Vic, is not an easy going show, but it is incredibly poignant. It’s hard hitting, examining offensive stereotypes about Asian culture, and Asian women in Western media, ultimately asking if bad representation is better than no representation at all.
When writer Kimber Lee first saw Miss Saigon on Broadway, she was absolutely shocked by the deeply rooted racism and misogyny. So shocked, she went home and wrote this play as a reaction.
Untitled F*ck M*ss S**g*n Play starts out with a narrated, slightly amended, run-through of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly opera, omitting the opera part but adding some more contemporary music. Japanese Geisha Kim is set up by her mother to flirt with an American soldier to forge a better life for herself, she meets Clark, they fall in love, Clark returns to America, leaving her to raise their illegitimate child on her own. Years later, he returns with his posh, white wife Evelyn to take the child with him, leaving Kim to sacrifice herself in order to let her child have a better future.
But it doesn’t stop there, it quickly runs through a plethora of very similar story, repeatedly showing another Kim having the same experience with another Clark, including references to Miss Saigon, South Pacific, and M*A*S*H. Again and again, Clark abandons Kim, returns with his new wife to bring the mixed-race child into a better life, leaving Kim to end hers. The scenes becomes shorter, more frantic, more ridiculous, the narration more pointed and aggressive.
Hilariously, Clark doesn’t actually speak any proper lines, but communicates entirely in nonsensical one-word quips consisting of random Asian words like Sashimi or Origami, while Kim speaks perfect English. Clark and Evelyn become vague pastiches of themselves, while Kim is more and more exasperated and desperate.
This play is loud, dismantling harmful stereotypes by portraying how truly offensive they are, re-living scene after scene of painting Asian culture and people in one-dimensional, repetitive, damaging ways. Adding a passionate ending that flips all these things on their head, including different views on the value of representation, be it bad or good, and leaving the audience with heads full of thoughts and impressions, this play is truly a remarkable experience. Raw, but incredibly funny at times, completely devastating in one moment, side-splittingly funny the next, it’s such an ambitious project that works incredibly well and will definitely rattle around in my head for quite some time to come.