Kingston's alter ego and the story's main character, simply named Daughter (Liana Pai), is the eldest child of Chinese immigrants who run a laundry in Stockton. Her mother (Tsai Chin) was a doctor in China but now must clean houses , while her father (Soon-Teck Oh), who once was a poet and scholar, works long days in the laundry.

Kingston’s alter ego and the story’s main character, simply named Daughter (Liana Pai), is the eldest child of Chinese immigrants who run a laundry in Stockton. Her mother (Tsai Chin) was a doctor in China but now must clean houses , while her father (Soon-Teck Oh), who once was a poet and scholar, works long days in the laundry.

The narrative weaves back and forth between the life of the struggling immigrant family, the hardships of their village in China and the mythic story of the Woman Warrior. The narrative is a complex tapestry of myth and reality, of triumph and tragedy, told through the daughter’s dreams, her mother’s stories and the real incidents of the characters’ lives.

“Warrior” balances the traditional American family play with the grander, mythological epics of Asian theater.

The work has an epic feel, and director Ott deserves kudos for the staging, which makes fast and fluid transitions between the minimalism of Daughter’s Stockton reality and the spectacle and scope — with the music, choreography and acting styles of traditional Peking Opera — in Daughter’s dream state.

“Warrior” covers Daughter’s personal odyssey as she tries to resolve conflicts and contradictions between East and West.

There is not one weak performance. Soon-Teck Oh is memorable as the broken, disillusioned father, as is Luo Yong Wang as the youthful version of the character. And Kim Miyori is forceful and convincing as Fa Mu Lan, the warrior.

At the heart of the piece is Pai, who brings a straightforward honesty, simplicity and strength to the role of the daughter.

And Tsai Chin, the daughter of a great Peking Opera star, provides a transcendent bridge between the worlds of epic myth and stark reality; this is a finely honed performance by a gifted actress.

This production is graced with a minimalist set by Ming Cho Lee and awesome costumes by Susan Hilferty, as well as a fine musical score by Jon Jang and Liu Qi-Chao and choreography by Daniel Pelzig.

The pace of the evening does slow somewhat in the second act, which is the only quibble with adaptor Rogin’s script.

Although multiculturalism in theater often is an excuse for tired, politically correct drama, this play is an example of what is possible in the vibrant cultural crossroads that is America. The novel has had a long journey to the stage, beginning in the early ’80s when plans for a production at the Mark Taper Forum were scrapped because of script problems.

The Woman Warrior

(Doolittle Theatre, Hollywood; 1,021 seats; $ 47.50 top)

Production

Center Theatre Group presents a drama in three acts adapted by Deborah Rogin from Maxine Hong Kingston's novels "The Woman Warrior" and "China Men." Director , Sharon Ott.

Creative

Set design, Ming Cho Lee; costumes, Susan Hilferty; lighting, Peter Maradudin; sound design, Stephen LeGrand, Jon Gottlieb; music composition and arrangements, Jon Jang, Liu Qi-Chao; choreography, Daniel Pelzig; Chinese movement specialists, Jamie H.J. Guan, Michele Ehlers.

Cast

Opened Feb. 16, 1995; reviewed Feb. 15; runs through April 23. Running time: 2 hours, 45 min. Fa Mu Lan, Teacher ... Kim Miyori Fa Mu Lan's Father, Father ... Soon-Tek Oh Fa Mu Lan's Mother, Brave Orchid ... Tsai Chin Daughter ... Liana Pai Ancient, Baron, Bak Goong, Druggist ... David Furumoto Ancient, Ah Po, Psychiatrist ... Dian Kobayashi
With: Jenny Woo, John Cho, Brian Kwan, Donna Mae Wong, Janis Chow, Michael Paul Chan, Dana Lee, Francois Chau, Page Leong, Emily Kuroda, Alison Gleason, Luo Yong Wang, Wood Moy, Charles Hu, Man Wong, Peide Yao. Maxine Hong Kingston's landmark novel is brilliantly staged by director Sharon Ott and a gifted ensemble of actors, with outstanding performances by Tsai Chin and Liana Pai. Play, adapted by Deborah Rogin, combines Kingston's novel with her later companion book "China Men" in an engrossing evening of theater.

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