Rich Ryan


Charles Francis Chan Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery

Every Fri. and Sat. from May 12-27
7:30 p.m.
May 14
1 p.m.
May 28
1 p.m.
Every Sun. from May 14-21
7 p.m.
Every Wed. from May 17-24
7:30 p.m.
Every Thu. from May 18-25
7:30 p.m.
May 20
1 p.m.

Mu Performing Arts’ latest presentation is a wickedly witty satire within a satire, the irreverently titled Charles Francis Chan Jr.’s Exotic Oriental Murder Mystery. Written by contemporary Asian American playwright Lloyd Suh, the work is a spoof of hoary detective tales, such as those starring the titular Charlie Chan. These stories featured Asian caricatures, made even more egregious by the casting of white actors in yellowface. Though this racist practice is rewardingly mocked in Suh’s work, the ambitiously twisted narrative doesn’t settle for easy conclusions. Set in 1967, the piece follows Frank, a dismayed hippie who hopes to create a revolutionary play that will restore an authentic cultural identity to Asian Americans. Unfortunately for Frank, the exact constitution of that identity proves even harder to resolve than his own dizzying murder mystery. First previewed in 2016 as part of the New Eyes Festival, this wildly entertaining yet cerebral presentation at the Guthrie’s Dowling Studio suggests that the shapeshifting nature of ethnic identity will always thwart categorization.