Lending immense and varied flavor is Joe Damiano’s imaginative lighting design and an original score and sound design by O-lan Jones.
Narita is not a flamboyant or in-dulgent actress staging merely a showcase performance. She commands the stage with a no-nonsense, unadorned style that peels away the identities of women who ultimately tell very American stories as characters who just happen to be from the Pacific Rim.
Among the journeys are a young American-Chinese woman weary of her parents always “eating and talking Chinese”; a teenage Cambodian immigrant; a Korean-raised high school coed painfully adjusting to a foreign culture at Inglewood High; and an Asian-American surprisingly finding her identity in a lesbian summer camp.
In one sketch entitled “Miyhue,” the character’s given first name, the storyteller concedes that it is easier to change her name to Jude for her American friends, although in her heart she will always be Miyhue.
Like any good solo artist these days, Narita doesn’t speak in merely one voice but artfully segues into multiple voices and, much more ambitiously, is skilled at different vocal accents, distinguishing, for instance, a Cambodian’s inflection from a Korean’s.
The story of a newly married wife from Asia, the evening’s most touching drama, is a strikingly forlorn portrait of a woman bravely but quietly tolerating an abusive American husband while sitting primly in a proper house dress holding a telltale, conservative purse and a poignant pair of white gloves neatly folded on her wrist. The gloves are a wonderful image, the mark of a subtle artist.