Sunday, March 10, 2024

Warrior Sisters of Wu

During the second century, a mysterious disease was identified in China, soon causing a devastating epidemic. (Sound familiar?) The chaos caused by the disease led to the collapse of the Han Dynasty and the emergence of three new kingdoms in China.

The events of this period are related in the historical novel The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which has in turn been dramatized over and over again. Now, Pan Asian Repertory is back with a fresh new adaptation by playwright Damon Chua.

Last night I finally saw Chua's play, Warrior Sisters of Wu, which sadly closes today. This fun romp through an already fictionalized history of China focuses on two sisters in Eastern Wu, one of the three titular kingdoms of the novel. The sisters, Wan and Qing, are only minor characters in the original, but have come to take on greater importance over time.

In Chua's version of the story, Qing is the feisty older sister who longs to fight in battle. Played by Kim Wuan, Qing is much better with her sword than she is speaking to people, particularly the young general Sun Ce (David Lee Huynh), whose perceived antipathy for her veils a deep-seated crush. Qing's younger sister Wan (Nancy Ma) is much more easy going, but is still ready and willing to take up a sword when needed.

All of this takes place against a background of religious conflict between Confucianism and Daoism. The fact that Sun Ce is a follower of Confucian values while Qing is a devout Daoist doesn't help matters. Still, we can see their attraction develop throughout, aided and abetted by Wan and her fiancĂ© Zhou Yu (Vin Kridakorn). 

The result is a delightful romantic comedy with some amazing stage combat. Warrior Sisters of Wu deserves to be taken up by regional theatres across the country.