Fuchou with Bourbon
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“Fuchou with Bourbon” takes place in contemporary San Gabriel, California, epicenter of Chinese culture in Southern California. The play begins with Sarah, 24, a half-Chinese half-Caucasian, bolting into the house she hasn’t been in since her mother died a year before. Her younger sister Lara is there. Sarah is drunk and ready to confront her father, who has left the house to tend a bar he owns. Sarah blames her father’s drinking and philandering as a reason for their Chinese-American mother’s downward spiral from cancer.
Lara, Sarah’s teenage daughter defends her father as the victim of the mother’s brow-beating and his “battle fatigue” as a Los Angeles County Sheriff scarred and fired, as a prison guard. Sarah is bitter their father took up with a much younger, non-Chinese woman, even before their mother was dead. She is furious when Lara confesses she asked the girlfriend to stay in the house because she can’t handle the father’s difficult mood swings. Lara reacts by screaming hysterically that she will never talk to Sarah again and never attend Sarah’s upcoming marriage. Sarah calms her sister with promises of reconciliation with her father. She then asks her teen sister about her love life. Lara tells her sister how lonely she is and has resented her older sister’s beauty. However, she did meet a boy who she is to meet at dance that night. Drunk and tired, Sarah asks her sister to nap with her for an hour, the way they used to…and the two exit.
Paul, father, returns drunk with his girlfriend, May. May is concerned with Paul’s inability to sleep and his scary wandering around the house at night. She worries that his feelings for her seems tenuous at best when all around are the Chinese themed reminders of his ex-wife. “You mean, like my daughter”? Paul retorts, hurting May deeply. Paul keeps drinking and finds it difficult to stay on topic and almost ignores May’s concerns. When May brings up the subject of the bar and how messy and empty it was, he accuses her of hypocrisy since it there they met. Drinking bourbon, Paul calls out for Lara. Lara enters almost dressed for the dance. With the burning cheeks of maudlin drunk, he praises Lara as his “only” daughter. Lara manages to pull away and exit for the dance. Just as Paul and May are about to go out to dinner, Sarah approaches. Raising a gun and taking aim at her father, “Hello, Dad,” she utters. A terrified May leaves the house. The scene ends with Paul standing unflinchingly in front of her daughter.
Paul coolly takes his old service Glock from Sarah telling her that he had always taught her to be careful with guns. After an attempt at “catching up” small talk, Paul is pelted with accusations of assassinating the mother by picking up this ridiculous “nymph” under the mother’s nose. The two argue over of his treatment of the mother and his abandoning the Chinese part of his life he adopted. Paul tries his best to remain calm and even defend himself under his daughter’s assaults. Sarah is especially lucid in her anger when it comes to the bar he bought after losing his job as Sheriff. Why does a drunk buy a bar knowing it would destroy the family? Paul gets desperate with remorse and he tries to explain the struggles as prison guard. But, it’s useless and, in a panic runs from the house under the barrage of, “sell the bar, Dad, sell the bar, only then can you be forgiven, get rid of the bar!”
When Lara returns that night, Sarah is sitting on the floor with the gun under her legs. Lara tells Sarah how the boy she was supposed to have met, had a girlfriend. She thinks her face is ugly and knows she will be alone all her life. Sarah confesses that her fiancé left her. Suddenly, Paul returns. His hands are bandaged and burned and his face is dirty from the smoke. He has burned down the bar and told the Sheriff Department what he has done. Lara blames Sarah for driving her father to this extreme act. The father, in obvious pain, but in a mood of spiritual acceptance decides to go to bed among his “Mandarin” ghosts.
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