By James Laudano
Kristina Wong wants to make you uncomfortable. After all, it’s when we’re uncomfortable that we really start thinking. It was with this in mind that she brought her one-woman show, “Wong Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” to Stony Brook’s Wang Center on April 10.
“Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is about the high rates of anxiety, depression and suicide among Asian-American women. Described as “swear-to-God-not-autobiographical,” the show is centered on Kristina’s presentation of why Asian-American women suffer from such issues and what, if anything, can be done. Like many similar shows focusing on a dark subject, Kristina strives to raise awareness and exercise the topic’s demons through comedy. Her humor is invasive, yet, at its core, mostly innocent. When explaining the concept of the climax of a dramatic story, she faked an orgasm for a solid minute, leaving the audience shifting in their seats and nervously laughing. Even when Wong sought to drive an important point or message home, she was able to mix in a bit of light-hearted humor, keeping the audience on their toes and in anticipation of her next move.
Perhaps the most memorable aspect of her show was the way she kept the audience involved in the flow and narrative of the performance. Wong would stop her lesson-style monologues to chat (or sometimes argue) with a member of the audience. (In fact, The Stony Brook Press’ own Arts Editor, Andrew Fraley, was the target of one such tangent, in which Wong pleaded with Fraley for the chance to touch his “white-people” hair.) At other points in the performance, she urged (or, dare I say, forced) the audience to stand up and sing “We Are The World”, or chant an improvised song she cooked up during one of her more frenetic moments on stage. This aggressive, in-your-face style was a refreshing change from most shows and helped keep the audience both engaged, uncomfortable and completely aware of the very serious messages she presented.
Following the performance, the audience and three panelists, including Kristina, participated in a question and answer session regarding the central themes espoused in the show. The panel served as a more stripped version of the performance, allowing Kristina and the audience to tackle some of the issues in a more direct fashion.
“It was amazing. The performance just struck home so much,” said Yina Chun, a sophomore and editor of the Asian-American E-Zine here at Stony Brook, after the show. The rest of the audience seemed to echo her sentiments.
Kristina’s website, www.kristinawong.org, serves as a venue for her booking, upcoming shows, blog and similar. The layout and content of the site follows the same sort of charming humor that made “Wong Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” so appealing. Later in April, Kristina will be performing in both Queens and Manhattan if you want to catch her. Dates and venues are available on her site. Either way, let’s hope that the next time she’s in the area she pops in for a visit to Stony Brook and, once more, makes us uncomfortable.
Latest posts by James Laudano (see all)
- Shifting Land, Stable Nation - March 16, 2011
- Album of the Fortnight: IRM - March 27, 2010
- Street Fighter IV OR How I Was Afforded A Rare Glimpse Back to the Halcyon Days of my Youth - February 27, 2009