When David Henry Hwang’s play M. BUTTERFLY opened in 1988 I did not see the original production. Several years later a group of actors, including myself, participated in a reading and discussion where I then lived in Florida. We were all enchanted by the work and the script has been one of my favorites ever since. Mr. Hwang originally did little research on the true story it was based on, wanting to weave his own vision based on his imagination. For the version that recently opened on Broadway he revised his script, based on information he has discovered over the years.
Not sure if the new script does not seem as sprightly because of the alterations or the simple fact that once we are familiar with the details it loses some of its startling, original charm. But the script still includes David Henry Hwang’s poetry and theatricality. The cast is outstanding, especially the leads Clive Owens and the amazing Jin Ha making his Broadway debut.
The scenic elements must have seemed magical and ethereal in models and conceptions but feels clumsy and intrusive onstage. This is a surprise coming from director Julie Taymor but they do no favors to an otherwise sublime production. Worth seeing but flawed.
TOMORROW: Recycling in New York