Sunday, March 10, 2013

Review of Yellow Fever at the Guthrie Theater

Quote of the Day:  Beware the Ides of March. William Shakespeare, also a line used in Yellow Fever by R.A. Shiomi, produced by Mu Performing Arts and performed at the Dowling Studio.

Kurt Kwan (Sam Shikaze) © Michal Daniel, 2013

Yellow Fever has all the elements of a good detective story, starting with the P.I., a loner who quietly and steadily works to solve crimes and make his community safer. The year is 1973. The place, Vancouver, Canada, and Miss Lilly has gone missing from the annual Cherry Blossom festival. Sam Shikaze uses his connections and intincts to solve the mystery and uncover the shady side of some of citizens. The story plays out in film noir fashion with the detective narrating like he's reading the notes on the case, and that smokey jazz music playing between scenes.

(L-R) Alex Galick (Chuck Chan), Sara Ochs (Nancy Wing), Jeannie Lander (Rosie), and Kurt Kwan (Sam Shikaze) All Photos © Michal Daniel, 2013
This play has just the right amount of characters. Each one has an important role in telling the story and moving the plot along. Jeanie Lander did an excellent job of bringing Rosie to life. She's the owner of the cafe (above picture) and adds insight into the culture, the mystery, and the climate of the times. She's a delightful actor with humorous lines and actions. Wade A. Vaughn plays two very different characters, and did it so well that I didn't realize it was the same actor until I read it in the program after the show!
(L-R) Kurt Kwan (Sam Shikaze), Sara Ochs (Nancy Wing), Eric Sharp (Capt. Kadota), and Brandon Ewald (Sgt. Mackenzie) © Michal Daniel, 2013
Yellow Fever also has all of elements of what I enjoy in a story - mystery, history, intrigue, colorful and witty characters, a little romance, and lots of humor. One of the lines got the biggest laugh I've heard at a live performance. Excellent comedic timing and spark between characters. 
(L-R) Kurt Kwan (Sam Shikaze) and Sara Ochs (Nancy Wing) © Michal Daniel, 2013
Sara Ochs seems to have fun playing Nancy, a writer and a modern woman of the 70's, who has another favorite line of mine. After she's threatened not to print what she's heard, she responds, "I won't, if I don't make my deadline," then heads out to go to press. She knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go after it.
The Biker Chef accompanied me to this play. He wrote in his review/survey for Mu Theater, "Great performance. Thought-provoking." I agree. Not everyone thinks about how racist we can be to each other in North America, how some people try to define the "right" race by a certain look and cultural background. Fear, power and greed are causes for all sorts of criminal behavior.
I recommend seeing Yellow Fever playing at the Guthrie Theater's Dowling Studio through March 24, for the laughs, the mystery, the colorful characters, and the parts that make you think.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  Have you ever been surprised or hurt by someone's blatant racisim or prejudices?

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