South Coast Rep: CHINGLISH

At South Coast Rep’s production of Chinglish, you are intrigued before you even walk through the door, spotting table tents on their patio that boast of such unusual cocktail offerings as a Not Right Sex Chauffeur, and for only five dollars. That’s still a bargain once you figure out that your libido won’t be driven home — they’re talking about a Left-Handed Screwdriver, and foreshadowing the entertaining misunderstandings to come in David Henry Hwang’s play.

The story begins with an Ohio businessman introducing some mistranslated signage found in China. But if you think, “Oh, there’s the joke. Now that’s over with,” you’re mistaken. Thankfully there is much more fun to come. While much of the play’s humor comes from mistranslations, the show is hardly one note. And while mistaken translations are humorous, so, too, are the intentionally distorted translations revealing the translator-character’s point of view. But beyond the words, there’s a story here, and a good one. It’s the story of relationships, loyalty, and respect, of cultural differences, and how some things come across whatever the language. This play is well written, well acted, and well worth the drive down from Los Angeles.

A sign in Chinglish indicating the restrooms.


“The music played during scene changes in #Chinglish at @SouthCoastRep would make a great dance club playlist. #releasethesoundtrackplease”

“#Chinglish @SouthCoastRep translates to good theatre.”

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