Lots of folks in Houston don't find anything funny about the Enron scandal; Tony Award® winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist David Henry Hwang, however, found a way to weave it into his comedy Chinglish. The Broadway hit follows Daniel Cavanaugh, an American businessman to China where he hopes to snag some big sign-making contracts. (The country is reportedly rife with poorly translated signs, such as those reading ''Deformed Man's Toilet'' instead of ''Handicapped Men's Restroom.'') There are just a couple of little, tiny complications - he doesn't speak Mandarin and he doesn't understand the subtleties of Asian business practices. Oh, and he's falling in love with someone who is completely off limits to him. Hwang, the author of M. Butterfly, skillfully zeroes in on the difficulties of communicating across cultural and linguistic differences.
Jordan Jaffe, founder of Black Lab Theatre which is co-presenting the show with Asia Society Texas Center, says he's especially proud of the cast that's been assembled for this production. New York City-based Vivian Chiu, an understudy for the Broadway production and member of the international cast, plays Vice Minister Xi Yan while local actor Mike Yager is Cavanaugh. ''The entire cast is bilingual,'' Jaffe says. ''We didn't know if we were going to be able to do that and then Mike told us, 'Oh, you know I've been studying Mandarin for years, right?' That was a real break.''
Chinglish is performed in English and Mandarin (with English subtitles). 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Through May 26. Asia Society Texas, 1307 Southmore. For information, call 713-515-4028 or visit blacklabtheatre.com. $35 to $125.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: May 9. Continues through May 26, 2013
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