LAUGHING WITH MY MOUTH WIDE OPEN: 80% – Sweet [UPDATED]

Gwendoline Yeo in "Laughing With My Mouth Wide Open" at the El Centro Theatre. Credit: Zuzana Kendrova

SWEET
Director Mark St. Amant keeps the show moving quickly, never overplaying the heavier material. Besides the brilliance of Yeo’s fast-paced writing, her skills on the zither are awe-inspiring. The set by Adam Flemming is simple and nicely set off by effective lighting and projections by Leigh Allen that give us a sense of location. If this show is any indication, Yeo is on her way to a long and successful stage career to go along with the rest of her achievements.
Obed Medina – EdgeLosAngeles

BITTER
But from there the story turns into yet another one-person recounting of a distant father and overly strict mother. And though this theme might on occasion work in solo shows, here it seems like a slap in the face to her parents, as she turns her back on their culture and wishes. And although elliptical storytelling works fine when one is playing Mark Twain or Emily Dickinson, those who have never heard of Yeo before this might wonder what happened to her after the events she describes. Yes, Yeo can offer clear depictions of her parents, brother and sister, schoolmates, teacher, and boss. Yes, there’s humor and pathos in her recollections. Yes, listening to her musicianship is a treat. But the upshot is a theatrical “So what?”
Dany Margolies – Backstage

SWEET
Director Mark St. Amant and his design team shape Yeo’s story with deft lighting and music cues; even so, the episodic format occasionally feels underdeveloped and scattered. A brilliant mimic, Yeo zeroes in on the core of her parents’ marriage with more acuity than some of her own experiences (like a problematic relationship with a college professor). But this buoyant actress-musician always brings the funny, and “Laughing” deserves more development and a wider audience.
Charlotte Stoudt – LA Times

SWEET
Overall, I cannot recommend Laughing With My Mouth Wide Open enough. Funny and heartfelt, it provided a great night of theatre for the sake of theatre—a rare gem and treat to find in Los Angeles.
Christian Torres – Socal.com

BITTERSWEET
Ultimately, Gwendoline Yeo shows Hollywood that she is of veritable, marketable worth. For producers seeking to transition from aspiring to formidable, Yeo is likely gold. She is beautiful and tough, and she can act with nuance and aplomb. But, what I would implore Yeo to do next is to believe more profoundly that she carries within her the same magic of 25 strings, that she has the capacity to convey an audience in the manner of music, and that if she were to break herself in two, she would discover that she is even more beautiful than anyone had previously imagined.
Andrea Kittelson – LA Examiner

SWEET
From Singapore to San Francisco, Desperate Housewives actress Gwendoline Yeo navigates her difficult childhood and awkward adolescence with the help of a loyal Speak N’ Spell, her beloved zither and a keen wit that will leave audiences smiling.
M.R. Hunter – EyeSpyLA

BITTERSWEET
The blessing and curse here is that her struggles of having teen angst so different from the American variety, and yet so similar, are the most intriguing plotlines in her piece. When she takes off on tangents (the club scene, the creepy relationship with her professor) that have either no or unsatisfactory conclusions, the show loses steam; likewise, although she’s adept at the multitude of accents she mimics, there are moments of linguistic indulgence that act as speed bumps. Still, Yeo’s a vivacious performer, especially when playing her Chinese long zither, and a self-aware writer — little touches like a Hello Kitty backpack, the high school Asian-American “popular girl” blaring Notorious B.I.G., and her aunt’s emphasis on a prize of jade earrings all gently rib both the stereotype and the culture on which it’s based. With squares of canvas hung around the stage onto which images are projected, the economical scenic and lighting designs (by Adam Flemming and Leigh Allen, respectively) are complementary to each other as well as to Yeo’s script. Mark St. Amant directs.
Rebecca Haithcoat – LA Weekly

“Laughing With My Mouth Wide Open,” El Centro Theatre, 804 N. El Centro Ave., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. Ends Dec. 19. $22.50-$30.00. (800) 838-3006. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

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LemonMeter About the Author: We don’t “review” shows here at the Lemon, rather we "review" reviews by gathering them from a variety of local review sites around the internet, judging them to be positive or negative, then forming an aggregate score that we call a LEMONMETER RATING, showing how well that show has been reviewed in total. For more detail on how the LemonMeter works visit here.

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