Theater Review: EXPATRIATED (The Broadwater Second Stage as Part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival)

Post image for Theater Review: EXPATRIATED (The Broadwater Second Stage as Part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival)

by Tony Frankel on July 4, 2024

in Theater-Los Angeles


Now, here’s a fascinating show. Two former lawyers (the best kind I say) and whip-smart writers, Dominique Roberts and Candace Leung, wrote and starred in Expatriated at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. In a dizzying series of vignettes, we meet a white lawyer sent to Hong Kong and a Hong Kong lawyer well-versed in English who is sent to work in an L.A. office. The two worlds intermingle for 55 minutes as the two women craftily switch characters to elucidate what it’s like to date, work, and get mangled in the corporate world abroad where being white is a privilege, and all the unpredictability, discrimination, inequity, tomfoolery and even commonality that entails.

Dominique Roberts and Candace Leung

The scenes between a Valley Girl HR rep and the Hong Kong expat are priceless; Roberts is hilarious and Leung is heartbreaking as she tries to figure out why doing her job perfectly isn’t good enough (the HR doesn’t seem to understand that there’s a difference between Mandarin and Cantonese languages). I also loved the Hong Kong mom giving advice to her daughter in Chinese via Sharon Tsang‘s voiceover sound design, a very clever way of showing how frustrating it can be to live somewhere outside of your familiarity. On a simple set, we are transported to a bar, an office, a coffeehouse, all in which the fine actresses really do create a sense of place and time. The procedural laws I learned about, such as the Green Card Lottery (a.k.a. The Diversity Immigrant Visa program), caused me to gnash some serious teeth. You have to go through the uncertainty of living abroad AND deal with red tape? Ugh.

Candace Leung

There is no director credited, and I’m afraid it shows in the basic nature of Expatriated‘s construction. The story — well, not really a story; more like a premise — is basically the adventures of a privileged white woman in China and a woman who experiences racism here. There’s an inordinate amount of scenes, most very short — under a few minutes I think — so the back-and-forth journeys become sadly unremitting. It is abundantly clear just how intensely intelligent Leung and Roberts are, and damn likeable, too, so I wish the show hadn’t become quite so wearying. Perhaps it’s just a matter of splicing, but given the show has already played overseas, it doesn’t seem likely that will change. It’s very easy to get into their worlds, not so easy to stay there. Kinda like being an immigrant.

Candace Leung and Dominique Roberts

The Broadwater (Second Stage),  6320 Santa Monica Blvd. in L.A.
reviewed on June 25, 2024
for more info, visit Expatriated at the Hollywood Fringe Festival site

Leave a Comment