Beijing Cake, Cassie Da Costa, China, China-Bashing, Edinburgh Fringe, Freedom of Speech, Gabriel Christian, Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, Racism, Sarah Rosen, Sinophobia, The Spaces on the Mile, Theatre Review, Twitter, Year of the Horse Theater.
[The following was posted on Facebook and Twitter by an anonymous audience member.]
I cannot contain myself any longer! I simply must describe one of the most offensive and outrageous plays that I have ever seen!
For the uninitiated, “Beijing Cake” is set in a world where roles are reversed and American people desperately want to live in China. Produced by Year of the Horse, a virgin theatre company, this play has the audacity to cast smart-alecky Yale students as good, honest American citizens. The civil servant Lori Hubert (Sarah Rosen) is portrayed as a ghastly buffoon, whose unrealistic antics are used to ridicule the behaviour of decent American travellers.
The black community would not take kindly to somebody running about in a grass skirt. “Blacking up” is rightly considered offensive and taboo. So why is this play allowed to represent American tourists as grinning idiotically and making witless remarks? – crass, racist imagery which takes us all the way back to the dark days of Graham Greene’s The Quiet American. Hubert is depicted as being grossly naive and insufferably condescending to everybody she meets – how can we still tolerate such an offensive stereotype?
Playwright Rachel Kauder Nalebuff claims to be an American! Boston is now a sophisticated, modern city, so why is one of its citizens shown beaming as she is presented with a cake? Typical racist stereotypes about over-eating Americans which should have no place in Fringe theatre! It is ridiculous, unfunny and generally shit for “Beijing Cake” to lampoon these dusty, old stereotypes. The Chinese characters are also shown talking in a made-up “chinky chonky” language – a device used to express the racist assumption that an American traveller would be too uneducated to know what they were saying.
I walked straight out of this play after fifteen minutes and wrote a 300 page email to the director of the Spaces venues, demanding immediate censorship. Such a play would be promptly censored in China and the playwright would be taken into custody! Yet I wandered back into the play a few minutes later, whereupon I was even more outraged!
Chairman Mao (Gabriel Christian) is represented as a mass-murderer, who cracks insensitive jokes about the famine which he caused. This goes against the whole spirit of the Fringe, where dictators such as Hitler are generally portrayed by ironic comedians as mischievous cuddly rogues. In all of these years, have we learned nothing from Frankie Boyle?
If I am any more outraged by this play I shall scream and scream and scream until I’m sick sick sick!
[Thanks to our anonymous audience member. #BeijingCake is currently trending on Twitter, along with millions of tweets about Chinese industry destroying the planet, Chinese people eating all of the world’s food, and REAL Sinophobia.]