Mary Phan and Minh Ly


Mary Phan as MeiA Beautiful Woman is an Unfortunate Life by William Maranda

Dates and Venue 22– 26 October 2008, 8pm | Methodica Acting Studio

Director Colleeen Lanki

Reviewer Ed Farolan

Minh Ly and Mary Phan delighted us with Bill Maranda's premiere of this comedy based on the Chinese thought that beauty can be a hindrance to a happy life. Colleen Lanki who teaches Theatre at UBC and who was based in Tokyo for several years studying traditional Japanese theatre delivered this comedy with a flair only an expert in Asian theatre could execute.

Minh Ly, a graduate of Studio 58, was seen in several shows here in Vancouver, including Banana Boys (Firehall Arts Centre), Cowboy Vs. Samurai (VACT), and Salome (Leaky Heaven Circus). In this one-hour comedy, he plays three distinct roles: the pots and pans salesman Rob Kang, a rumor monger; Bing, an old man, father of Mei; and a young village aristorcrat, Qi. He is definitely funny, and when he made his first entrance as Kang, with miniature kitchen utensils hanging all over his body, from head to foot, the audience couldn't stop laughing. And their smiles remained in their faces all throughout the performance as he changed costumes and acted his two other roles superbly.

Mary Phan who was born in Edmonton and raised in Vancouver and Hong Kong studied at Methodica Acting Studio, and is the Founder and Artistic Director of My Theatre Company Society as well as Executive Producer of William Maranda Productions. As an actress, she has appeared in Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe? in this year's Vancouver Fringe Festival, Lowe's Smile,Williams' Something Unspoken, and Shaffer's White Liars, among other acting stints. In this production, she plays both ugly and beautiful Mei and an old woman, her mother, Su. Again, like Minh Ly, the transformation from ugly to beautiful was simply amazing, and her comedic antics as Su got the audience giggling all throughout her performance.

Yulia Shtern's costumes were wonderful, and her stage design was simple: a table and two chairs which were used creatively later on as Su's bamboo house. Nicholas Jacques who is an orchestral and chamber musician provided remarkable sound effects with a variety of percussion instruments, including pots and pans. I asked him about the pots, and he said that percussion comes in all forms to get the sound you like.

Bill Maranda commented that the comedy backstage with the constant change of costumes (with the help, naturally, of Stage Manager Susan Dalton, was a comedy in itself. Perhaps Bill can do a version of this comedy showing the backstage drama. Was it Neil Simon who did a comedy of this sort?

Congratulations to the cast and crew. And for those who have no plans this weekend, drop by and enjoy this delightful comedy in a very convenient venue close to the Waterfront Skytrain station.

© 2008 Ed Farolan