If you liked the segments of the film "The Joy Luck Club" which took place in China, you'll love David Henry Hwang's play "Golden Child." Although Hwang is probably better known for his play "M. Butterfly," "Golden Child" is a remarkable piece of writing which deserves attention. According to the production history included in the book version, an early version of "Golden Child" premiered in 1996, and a later version was presented at Broadway's Longacre Theatre in 1998. But "Golden Child" is also one of those plays which succeeds purely as a readers' text.
"Golden Child" opens with Andrew, a Westernized man of Chinese heritage, who is visited by the ghost of his Chinese-born mother. This brief prologue leads to the story of his mother's girlhood in China. We meet Andrews's grandfather, Tieng-Bin; Tieng-Bin's three wives; and the Western clergyman who seeks to convert them to Christianity.
"Golden Child" is a thought-provoking exploration of family life and cross-cultural contact. There is both humor and tragedy in the dialogue. The story addresses such topics as polygamy, foot-binding, ancestor worship, and opium use in traditional Chinese culture. Hwang's ironic portrayal of the politics of "conversion" may be a revelation to those Western Christians who harbor romantic, idealistic notions about bringing the "light" to non-European peoples. I was very impressed with Hwang's writing, and I highly recommend "Golden Child."