Broadway play's echoes of Bo scandal may prevent China staging

Fri May 18, 2012 3:39pm EDT
 
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - China's biggest political scandal in two decades is likely to have dashed playwright David Henry Hwang's hopes of bringing his Broadway play "Chinglish" to mainland China anytime soon.

In a case of life imitating art, the comedy has so many similarities to events surrounding deposed Chinese politician Bo Xilai that Hwang says he doesn't believe it would be acceptable to the authorities to allow a production to be mounted.

In the play, which premiered in Chicago last year before the Bo scandal erupted, an American businessman has an extramarital affair with a sexy Chinese female official and her boss is arrested on corruption charges.

There is also a British consultant "fixer" who arranges for the son of a Chinese official to go to a school in the UK. Beneath it all lies a power struggle, and there are many funny linguistic misunderstandings along the way.

In the real-life scandal, there are allegations of corruption surrounding Bo and his beautiful wife Gu Kailai, now a suspect in the murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood. He had been a former family friend who had among other things arranged for Bo's son to attend an exclusive school in the UK.

There is an elusive French architect who appears to have shared both an affectionate and close business relationship with Gu. And beneath it all, a power struggle, with the ambitious Bo climbing his way toward the pinnacle of the Communist Party.

"It has always been my dream that the play could be done in China proper," Hwang, a 54-year-old Los Angeles-born Chinese-American writer, said in an interview.

"However, the Bo Xilai case and the fact there are these similarities probably makes it less likely that the play could be performed in China, at least in the near future."   Continued...

 
Playwright David Henry Hwang is pictured in this undated handout photo received by Reuters May 18, 2012. China's biggest political scandal in two decades is likely to have dashed playwright Hwang's hopes of bringing his Broadway play "Chinglish" to mainland China anytime soon. REUTERS/Handout/Lia Chang