filial by David Yee, directed by Nina Aquino. Presented by fu-GEN at the Factory Studio. August 7, 10 and 13 at 6:30 pm, August 11 at 8 pm, August 15 at 11 pm, August 16 at 9:30 pm. Rating: NNNNN
Notions about devoted chinese children fly out the window in filial , David Yee 's look at a self-destructive 20-something Chinese Canadian who's anything but a loyal number-one son. "In many ways the play's very anti-Asian," points out Richard Lee , who plays Jude, the central character. "There's no mother, the father's neglectful and the son is irresponsible. These aren't situations a lot of Asian plays deal with."
After leaving home at 15, Jude gets his girlfriend pregnant, loses his job and finally ends up on his father's doorstep, suicidal, desperate for money and seeking a lot of answers.
"He gives three people in his life - his boss, his girlfriend and his father - 15 minutes each to prove that they didn't screw up his life," explains Lee, who was drawn to the script's psychological complexity and its funky sense of time and reality.
The idea of family is a familiar one for Lee, who's found a family of like-minded artists at fu-GEN Theatre Company, devoted to the development of Asian-Canadian talent.
"Coming out of York University, I was naive. I thought I would distance myself from Asian-Canadian theatre and try to show everyone I was different," he says. "But I can't deny my Asian heritage. I am what I am."
In the past few years, he's performed in some of the country's most impressive Asian-themed works, including I., Ghost Train and Little Dragon.
In the latter piece, performed at last year's SummerWorks, he got to live out a dream by depicting martial arts legend Bruce Lee, an experience that led to his current project of studying how the martial arts apply to theatre.
"I'm looking at everything from safety in mixed styles of martial arts in film and TV to how you can theatricalize moves and utilize weapons so it's not just punch-kick-punch but punch-kick-hold," says Lee, who has a black belt in mixed-style martial arts.