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M. Butterfly. Paperback – January, 1998
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An L.A. Theatre Works full-cast performance starring John Lithgow and B.D. Wong alongside Margaret Cho, David Dukes, Joanna Frank, Arye Gross and Kathryn Layng. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Top Customer Reviews
At its heart, Hwang's original play reveals how the hubris and ignorance of the West and its preference for the comforting lies of Orientalism over a reality too harsh for the West to bear leads to downfall -- in Rene Gallimand's case, a humiliating political and personal one; in the West's case, a humiliating political and military loss in the Vietnam War. The parallels are obvious, but in Hwang's hands, so deftly handled that I would recommend the L.A. Theatre Works edition to everyone.
The story begins with ex-diplomat Rene Gallimard, in prison for treason, watching his vision of his former love Song Liling dancing first to traditional Chinese opera music, then to the straits of Puccini's opera. Rene recalls how he was known and loved by the "Perfect Woman". He recalls meeting Song at the opera in Peking/Beijing, and meetings afterward, including one where Rene asks, "Are you my Butterfly?" Of course, Rene's French wife, Helga, is in Beijing with him, but his affair makes him seem more of a man to himself and to his consulate, which promotes him to vice-consul. Rene knows that like B.F. Pinkerton of the opera, he is emotionally cruel to his paramour, but takes this as a God-ordained privilege of manhood. What he doesn't know is, who's playing whom?
If you remember the 1980s TV ad for M. Butterfly (search on YouTube) and the talk around this Tony Award-winning play, you'll recall the show's Big Secret, which I won't reveal here.
Hwang cleverly matches the action of his play with key moments in Madame Butterfly while satirizing the opera.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
M. Butterfly takes on some very ambitious themes: gender, imperialism, and sex-politics. So far, so good. Where the play largely fails is in the execution of these ideas. Read morePublished 9 days ago by T. Ambrosini
I'd like to give it ten stars for Huang is my favorite Asian playwright.Published 6 months ago by Yiyuanfang Qiao
Book came quickly and was in perfect condition. Great quick read. :)Published 8 months ago by Jordi D.
A fascinating, visceral take on the conflation of racism and sexism that is Orientalism. A must-read.Published 9 months ago by Kathryn
This is a play that I read with another adult female for a club project. We have also read a variety of reviews and scholarly articles. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Charlene