M. Butterfly on Broadway By Michael Martinez
Theatre Review: M. Butterfly on Broadway
By David Henry Hwang
Directed by Julie Taymor
Cort Theatre 138 West 48th Street
The new production of David Henry Hwang’s acclaimed play M. Butterfly at the Cort Theatre offers audiences the opportunity to revisit a modern classic that might be more timely now than its original Broadway Tony Award – winning run in 1988. Based on a twenty year relationship between a French diplomat and a Peking opera singer who is a man masquerading as a woman, M. Butterfly explores themes of sexual identity, the West’s political and cultural relationship with Asia , international espionage and the extent lovers will go to keep an impossible love affair alive in the midst of clashing cultures and political forces. The play has also been updated by David Henry Hwang to include new factual information which sheds additional light on the love affair and the Asian lover who kept his true sex a secret for twenty years.
The cast features the striking British actor Clive Owen as the diplomat Rene Gallimard. Best known for his roles in numerous films including Croupier, I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, Closer and Children of Men, Owen delivers a moving and emotionally complex performance. He humorously captures the giddy joy of a schoolboy falling in love for the first time when he meets and has a secret rendevous with his lover Song Liling, portrayed by Jin Ha in his Broadway debut. Owen’s Gallimard transforms from gallant lover & savior into a victim of love who holds on to his illusions. Jin Ha’s performance as the Chinese lover and spy is the glue that holds this new production together. For the audience to fall for this crazy true story we need to see Song Liling through Gallimard’s eyes. Jin Ha’s role goes beyond the outer layer of costume and make-up. The scenes where Gallimard and Song Liling meet in her apartment are the hightlights of this revival, these moments are like clues to a mysery as we witness their seduction and deceptions. Renowned for her direction of the Broadway blockbuster The Lion King and the headline grabbing spectacle Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark, director Julie Taymor brilliantly navigates the intricate plot and themes of M. Butterfly.
David Henry Hwang’s revisions to the story at the conclusion of the play offer a possible answer to the question of how a man can be duped into believing he is in love with a woman who is really a man. One of the great aspects of M. Butterfly is that it still holds myseries that are unanswered. The play is also an expolration of the nature of love. If these characters where in love with each other, maybe the sexual illusion, deception and defiance against the political forces that tried to seperate them where part of the dance that drew and kept them together.
M. BUTTERFLY | Official Broadway click Home