Thursday, 28 April 2005

Monologues by Asa Gim Palomera, April 28, 2005

Monologues  by Asa Gim Palomera 
Women of Asia
 Chapel off Chapel, April 28 to May 7, 2005
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on April 28, 2005

It is heartening to see a stage filled with so many Asian women in Monologues, by Asa Gim Palomera.

Six women of diverse Asian backgrounds, plus two from Mediterranean cultures, perform a series of vignettes about the various predicaments of women from Asia.

All are based on true stories an were originally part of a larger project called Women in Asia.

The women are all versatile and skilful performers, both physically and vocally. Director, Asa Gim Palomera, underlines the emotional dialogue with abstract and evocative choreography.

Some of the characters are comic while others are grim and disturbing. Many depict the women in their role as sexual objects or as abused by or subservient to men or to other women.

Strangely, the stereotypes of Asian women are reinforced in many stories, although the reasons for such stereotypes are investigated to some degree.

In Virgin Sale, (Shireen Morris, Kaori Hamamoto, Janette Hoe)  an 11 year old girl is sold into prostitution by her parents and lives a life of sordid sexual exploitation.

S.S.S. - Retired Prostitute (Janette Hoe, Shireen Morris) depicts a young woman who uses sexual wiles to manipulate the 2,000 men she "loves'.

A more disturbing tale is The Dowry, (Mandi Sebasio-Ong, Shireen Morris, Daniela Lucchetti about an Indian bride who is abused and starved by her mother-in-law.

Milking Madam Butterfly (Yet Again) features an opera diva (Shireen Morris) commenting ironically upon the tragedy of Puccini's Madam Butterfly, a victim of her own dreams.

An overtly tragic story is Japanese Medea, (Miki Oikawa, Diane Stathis OK).
A young Japanese mother, isolated, humiliated and finally abandoned by her husband, drowns her children.

Woman on Top changes the pace. The wife of an Asian Prime Minister (Kathleen Baguio OK) revels in the wealth and power she has bought with her marriage.

Two comedies involve food and marriage. An Italian woman, (Stathis) married to a Japanese, bemoans the meagre portions of food in Japan. Then a Japanese wife (Oikawa) of an Aussie bloke, appears docile but uses commando-like tactics to compel her man to eat seaweed and rice.

There is a little too much emphasis on Asian women as victims and the finale of naked women grasping at kimonos in the half-darkness, was confusing and awkward.

However, Monologues is lush, entertaining, challenging and passionately performed and directed.

By Kate Herbert

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