SECRET IDENTITY CRISIS

paul yen · Ages 18+ · flashing lights · world premiere · one person show · 1hr · United States of America

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Review by SAONAM LE
July 30, 2017 certified reviewer

What I liked

Paul takes various pillars of pop-culture, and adapts them to be of asian-origin; this ultimately provides a new perspective on a topic that is being discussed more and more. At one point during the production, Paul discusses Asian-Americans resorting to extreme measures to “white-ify” themselves, to be more akin with what Hollywood sexualizes and glorifies. He acts out the thought-process behind appearance-altering, a bit that crescendos gradually until the scene’s sudden climax. Here, Yen—having become slightly more crazed with every alteration to his appearance—completely devolves from rational though to become Batman’s The Joker. Here, Paul—smeared makeup, green wig, cackling laugh and all—utilizes this D.C villain to highlight the effects of Hollywood’s “white-centric” depiction of beauty.

Secret Identity Crisis works to summarize the hurdles of self-identification, wavering cultural pride, and the desire to belong that I—a second-generation Vietnamese American—faced growing up in Orange County, California. Well thought-out, written, and performed, this production proved to be a pleasure to attend. Well done Paul—well done.

What I didn't like

Should Secret Identity Crisis be reprised, it should be done in a bigger venue, to a bigger audience.

My overall impression

Relying upon pop-culture icons and personal anecdotes, Paul provides commentary regarding how Asian Americans currently fit within Hollywood paradigm. The stand-out topics of discussion? The white-washing of roles within films, the lacking representation of a strong asian leads, and the limited number of asian archetypes.

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