The "C" Word by Grace Chin

Dates and Venue 2-11 April 2009 @ 8pm | Playwrights Theatre Centre (1398 Cartwright Street), Granville Island

Reviewer Ed Farolan


The new face of Canadian society is here. This play reflects what Canadians are today, and the true meaning of multicultural values in today's Canada. Children of immigrants have developed new values, and although there is no hint of discrimination when they say "that white woman" or "brown face", that seems to be the linggo these days of the young multiculturals.

Canadian theatre is also changing. Just a few years ago, who would have thought that aboriginal theatre would be a thing of the future? And today, you not only have the aboriginal arts but the entire world right here in Canada. There's a twist, though, a negative twist: global morality has declined, and this is reflected in the Canadian landscape today.

Gone are the days of traditional values. Generation gaps are narrowing because even parents today give in to whatever their children ask for. This is evident in this play where the father of Grace Chin (Kelly Cho) tells her that he'll give her anything she wants. Yes, indeed. The children of these immigrants who suffered the first years of their lives in Canada but then, eventually became prosperous, have spawned spoiled Canadian brats who no longer believe in morality and tradition, who are apathetic to their lives, and who don't care what's going to happen to them next. When Kelly Cho gets pregnant at the end of the play, her reaction to it, from my impression, was "Who cares? I'll just have to live with it, and no problem financially. There's always daddy to take care of me."

But I believe that this attitude pervades throughout the world, . It's not only the new generation of Canadians who don't care about commitment, who are confused about what's right or wrong, and who are apathetic to life. It's the generation of the G20 societies.

The C-Word main cast Preet Cheema (Akesh Gill), Sheryl Thompson (Ashley Hennessey), Fane Tse (Steve Chung), and Raahul Singh (Pal Prasad) are reflections of Canadian society today--mostly East Indians and Chinese, mixed with the very few white faces left in Canada, particularly here in Vancouver. And I think in the next few years, we'll see more of this changing face of Canadian theatre, from white faces to brown, yellow and black because this will evidently be the new demographics in Canada.

Mel Tuck (founder, Austin-Tuck Studios, Gastown Actors Studio), a Canadian of the older generation, has taken these actors (I suspect they're students from his studio classes) and showed them how to act. I suspect that this is the old Actors Studio techniques he picked up from Lee Strasberg et al. where being natural is what acting's all about. There are drawbacks to this, though, one of them being that actors tend to be too "natural". and therefore, lose the whole essence of what theatre and theatricality is all about.

But we learn each day, and I wish this group all the luck in future productions. I suggest something more entertaining, more fun-loving. In fact, at the back of the programme, I saw an ad for an upcoming classic Rodgers & Hammerstein musical, The Flower Drum Song, to be produced by another new Asian group, the Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre (VACT). This is the kind of thing audiences enjoy and I'm sure if you can come up with a musical, you'll have a full house, instead of the less than half house attendance last opening night..

© 2009 Ed Farolan