UNTITLED F*CK M*SS S**GON PLAY- BY KIMBER LEE- until 22 JULY 2023
The reviews are in for Kimber Lee’s untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon play ★★★★★ ‘A wickedly funny satire’ WhatsOnStage ★★★★★ Manchester Evening News ★★★★★ Northern Soul…
I didn’t know how much I needed untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon until I came across the play.
untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon is a bold, experimental and humorous play by Asian-American playwright Kimber Lee. The play criticises and exposes sexist and racist stereotypes of East and Southeast Asian women in popular Western productions like Madama Butterfly, South Pacific and M*A*S*H by retelling these stories in exaggerated and hilariously ridiculous caricatures. The effect the play has is special and extraordinarily powerful. The play unapologetically illustrates the harmful effects of colonialism inflicted upon East and Southeast Asia and its people, yet does not alienate anyone in the audience. Instead, it gives East and Southeast Asians in the crowd, or indeed anyone, great entertainment and lots of laughs. Kimber presents a story that is ridiculous and comical yet undeniably true. Through retelling historical narratives, she fights back stereotypes in a tongue-in-cheek way and demonstrates the importance of different perspectives. I really enjoy how Kimber gives the main female lead the voice she has been robbed of for decades on the Western stage. As a Chinese woman in the audience, I felt relieved and grateful to see her and myself represented on stage.
Two years ago, I realised that all the characters I have ever written were white. Fast forward to two months ago, I organised an event with the Royal Exchange Theatre to give Wrice participants and myself the opportunity to meet Kimber Lee. Wrice is a Manchester-based creative writing project I began as a response to the lack of representation and opportunities in the arts for the East and Southeast Asian community. This meet up was an initiative that began with Kimber, who wanted to connect with the local East and Southeast Asian community. We met in a spacious room at the theatre generously lit by the sun, united by our love for the arts and the similarities of our ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
We spoke about why we were here today, our unique experiences as ESEA creatives, our challenges, our achievements and our reservations. We came with questions for Kimber, which opened up into discussions that affirmed our experiences or gave comfort to doubts that we had. Our excitement and appreciation were as palpable as the sun’s warmth in the room.
It can be so difficult to put into words what we feel is lacking in the arts scene here when it is so normalised to be the only Asian person in the room. Often, the words to express the injustice we experience are demoralising and even inadequate at times, which is why plays like untitled f*ck m*ss s**gon are so important. Her play has created a space where we can acknowledge these injustices and offers a hopeful step forward to changing oppressive attitudes towards those who are different from us. If the audience can have a laugh together in the theatre, I feel hopeful that everyone in the room may begin to understand that we are more similar than not.