Privilege is insidious, even when it’s ostensibly being questioned. Neil LaBute writes a play about misogyny, and who gets the plum roles? Men. Ryan Coogler makes a movie about Apollo Creed’s son, and who gets the Oscar nomination? Rocky.
Two Mile Hollow flips the script on this dynamic by satirizing the dominance of white narratives with a cast comprising exclusively Asian Americans, four of whom play wealthy white characters. Leah Nanako Winkler’s extraordinary new script is given a superb production by Theater Mu and Mixed Blood Theatre, under the direction of Randy Reyes.
At first, the show seems anything but subtle. It centers on a family blessed with fortune and fame, and who of course are perpetually anxious about losing any trace of it. Blythe (Sun Mee Chomet) is selling the East Hampton beach house she shared with her late husband, a movie star. Blythe’s daughter Mary (Kathryn Fumie) has come for one last visit, along with her stepsons Joshua (Sherwin Resurreccion) and Christopher (Eric Sharp), the latter a film star in his own right.
They’re extravagantly offensive. Blythe is full of scorn for “Orientals,” and the grown children have already forgotten about the Argentinian nanny who raised them. They suspect Christopher’s Asian-American personal assistant Charlotte (Meghan Kreidler) may be “flippin-yo.”
The actors bite so heartily into the roles, and Winkler creates such sharply funny lines for them, that the play works even on the modest terms it initially sets for itself, as a mockery of the easily mocked. As the show unfolds, though, it becomes clear that Winkler isn’t just going after wealthy WASPs: She’s illuminating how so much of the Western canon is hostage to their travails.
These characters have problems, sure, and they’re the same problems—infidelity, depression, jealousy, addiction—we’ve been taught are the stuff of Great Drama, at least when experienced by white people. Other narratives, like Charlotte’s, get marginalized.
As the story spirals upward toward an increasingly meta-dramatic commentary, we go along for the ride with a cast who glory in these substantive and hilarious roles. Resurreccion is so committed to his insecure and sheltered character that he even pulls off a potentially corny running gag regarding Joshua’s wobbly Mid-Atlantic accent.
One of the most amusing scenes involves a confrontation between the two brothers in a well-manicured garden; if there’s justice, Two Mile Hollow will lead to the first Ivey awarded for a performance delivered by an actor with landscape gravel stuffed down his pants.
It’s all spectacularly silly, while also being deadly serious about the question of who gets to create art, and to have it seen.
Two Mile Hollow
Mixed Blood Theatre
1501 S. Fourth St., Minneapolis
612-338-6131; through March 4