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Under the Rainbow at Off-Market Theater

For A New Asian American Outlook, Head Under The Rainbow

"Under the Rainbow" written and directed by the renowned Philip Kan Gotanda hits us from multiple angles. Presented by the Asian American Theater Company, the two one-act plays take typical racial identity issues and reframe them in interesting and novel ways.

The first play, "Natalie Wood is Dead" centers on a mother, pushing her adult daughter to do whatever it takes to be a winner in Hollywood. The spare set design (most of the play takes place on or around the mother's couch) helps us feel saturated in the tension between the two women. While at times the acting seems forced, the core of the relationship between the two women is an interesting one.

Rather than characterized as passive, the Asian mother, Yoko Dalhauser (Diane Emiko Takei), a former actress herself, seems fixated on the image of herself in one of her old movies, a woman holding a machine gun in each hand and firing them away. Dalhauser tells her daughter Natalie (Pearl Wong), "…make sure you're getting fucked for the right reasons, who's the fucker, who's the fuckee, that makes all the difference in the world." This distinction between fucker and fuckee, how power is appropriated in relationships, permeates both one-acts.

In the second one-act, Richard Saugus (Danny Wolohan), a self-proclaimed white male with attitude (w.m.w.a.) hits just the right notes of arrogance and charm as he explains to his audience what no politically correct liberal would reveal, the real thoughts of a white man who wants to hook up with Asian women. "White Manifesto and Other Perfumed Tales of Self-Entitlement or Got Rice?" deals with some of the same issues of identity as the first, but strikes a completely different tone, "who's the fucker, who's the fuckee, n'est-ce pas?" Saugus sardonically asks.

The piece is edgy, hitting the mark of exactly what the theater company tries to do, confronting racial identity issues head-on. Sargus' thoughts are controversial, but honest. Some of his most intimate insights come from what he calls pillow talk, conversations with Asian women in bed --"her words, not mine."

Between parts of his fast-paced monologue, Sargus sips from a glass of red wine, testing the waters so to speak, waiting for the moment when the flavors truly open up. Such gestures temper Sargus' clever and confident remarks, giving everyone a moment to pause and capture another kind of perspective, allowing us to observe Sargus without being overwhelmed by his words.

Two Asian women in the background (Sue Takeda and Pearl Wong), adorned in sparkly magenta dresses, serve as go-go girls, cooing out certain repeated phrases and adding movement to emphasize or contradict Sargus' words. The result is a wild mix of the exacting and entertaining; poignant questions that are thrown out into the open yet also soaked up all in good fun. "White Manifesto" alone is worth the "Under the Rainbow" ticket price for its accurate take on interracial relations. These pieces meet us where we are today and push us further along.

Under the Rainbow
February 25, 2005 – March 12, 2005
Thursdays 8pm, Fridays and Saturdays, 7pm and 9pm
Admission: $25, general and $12.50 student/senior