The ensemble cast is expertly led by the visionary directing of Jeff Liu. Their collective talent carries the audience as the play vacillates between right brain emotionality and the rapid-fire delivery of historical dates and annotations designed to remove the viewer from the trauma of the events as they unfold. The cast delivers extraordinary performances, offering a wide range of dialects, perspectives, and emotions. There are surprisingly humorous moments that spring from the dialogue, and given the subject matter of the play, these moments of comedic delivery are very welcomed.
Jaime Kalman – Actors Entertainment
The Chinese Massacre [Annotated] is a must see, especially for Angelenos and those for whom a true theatrical experience has been rare.
Michael Sheehan – On Stage Los Angeles
A tragic incident in Los Angeles annals — the Oct. 24, 1871 murders of 17 ethnic Chinese by a crazed mob — receives neither the history it deserves nor the theatrical experience it promises in “The Chinese Massacre (Annotated),” one of two simultaneous Tom Jacobson world premieres at the Atwater Village complex.
Bob Verini – Variety
The Chinese Massacre (Annotated) further cements Tom Jacobson’s reputation as one of our finest and most fascinating contemporary playwrights. It is a play that will mesmerize you, make you think, set you to researching Los Angeles history, and most of all, keep you thoroughly entertained from start to finish.
Steven Stanley – StageSceneLA
The Chinese Massacre manages to be emotionally moving and intellectually stimulating as well, but the emotional impact is mostly due to the sheer drama of its events rather than their presentation within Jacobson’s play. This might be exactly what Jacobson intended.
Don Shirley – LA Stage Watch
Director Jeff Liu’s production becomes more involving when it moves past the choppy early sequences into brilliantly staged action scenes, moving toward an intriguing climax. Jacobson’s storytelling isn’t always as lucidly or cohesively structured as it should be. Yet compensations come via the intrinsic power of the true events and splendid performances from the versatile 14-member cast.
Les Spindle – Backstage
Commissioned by Circle X Theatre Co. in 2006 and workshopped in 2008, The Chinese Massacre seamlessly integrates factual footnotes and cited annotations into an intriguing narrative of one of the darkest days in Los Angeles history.
Parimal M. Rohit – Buzzine
In that respect, Jacobson hedges his bets. The play vacillates between genuineness and artifice, leaving one wondering what the prolific Jacobson, author of more than 50 plays, actually intended this time around. Fascinating historical nuggets can be gleaned from the play’s rushing flow, yet Jacobson’s icy and intellectually confusing conceit keeps the audience at an emotional distance that is never bridged.
F. Kathleen Foley – LA Times
It is not difficult to imagine as-yet unborn doctoral candidates focusing dissertations on the works of Tom Jacobson. I suspect such future taxonomies will relegate this play to the “problem” category: lofty ambition, brilliant inventiveness, but a muddle all the same.
Trevor Thomas – EdgeLosAngeles
The result, unfortunately, is an admirable misfire.
Terry Morgan – LAist
The play’s final image is, to be sure, stunning both as theater and as a reminder that history is never really forgotten, but it is also the exact image we might have predicted from the moment the lights go up, and does provoke one to wonder if it was necessary to go through the Chinese torture which director Jeff Liu definitely puts us through to get there.
Harvey Perr – Stage and Cinema
In any event, high-tail it over to The Chinese Massacre (Annotated) – it is a thrill ride that manages to be fun and entertaining even as it educates.
Tony Frankel – Stage and Cinema
Tom Jacobson has crafted a stimulating and exciting play, brought to life masterfully by Circle X Theatre Co., that deserves to be seen by all who call themselves Angelenos. “The Chinese Massacre (Annotated)” is, quite simply, the best and worst of Los Angeles.
Barnaby Hughes – Socal.com
Director Jeff Liu and the very talented ensemble of actors combine to keep the pace of the play at warp speed making it a bit difficult to follow, but taken as a whole the piece is still an enjoyable event. Performances are uniformly excellent, costumes are realistic, and the set is serviceable. Watching the piece readily brings to mind the Rodney King insurrection, the Watts Riots of 1965, and Zoot Suit Riots of 1943.
Robert Axelrod – Reviewplays
It’s unfortunate that The Chinese Massacre’s bard undercuts not only the seriousness of his content but its power and cohesive flow with a self-reflective, self-indulgent form that repeatedly disrupts and distracts from what otherwise would be compelling storytelling.
Ed Rampell – Jesther Entertainment
THE CHINESE MASSACRE [ANNOTATED]
Circle X Theatre Company
At the Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 2PM and 7PM
Runs April 22 through May 28, 2011
Tickets: (323) 644 1929; $25.00 top; Sundays at 2PM Pay What You Can
Filed Under: 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.