The Fu Machu Complex at Ovalhouse
Deeply offensive, wildly satirical and steeped in sexual innuendo, Justin Audibert’s The Fu Manchu Complex by Daniel York is a devilishly ironic spin on Sax Rohmer’s classic novel that will leave you in hysterics at the Ovalhouse in South London.
British colonials Inspector Nayland Smith and his accomplice Dr Petrie set out to foil the sinister plans of criminal mastermind Dr Fu Manchu, intent on infiltrating the West and taking over merry old England. Skilfully written and inventively executed, the production features an all-East Asian cast “whited-up” to depict outlandish Caucasian and Chinese stereotypes that will leave you shocked and amused, highlighting the openly racist anti-Asian sentiment of the era and its challenges.
Starring Paul Chan as Smith and Andrew Koji as Petrie, the Sherlock Holmes-style dynamic of the pair is initially disjointed, but as the actors relax on stage, their chemistry is much more genuine and the exaggerated physical comedy appears far less forced.
Koji makes for a loveable and gentle sidekick, with his shy demeanour and the affectionate way he tends to Smith. His animated enactment is a treat to take in. Moj Taylor is dynamic and winning in his supporting roles as a Scotswoman, an Irishman and a Chinaman. He vibrantly brings a distinct individual persona to each character and provides even more theatrical comedic relief.
With minimal but grandiose sets that enrich the quality of the production by recreating the feel of an inviting home with warm decorative furniture, or a seedy club with dim red lighting and smoke, the atmosphere created on stage is alluring and truly brings this work of fiction to life.
The Fu Manchu Complex is at Ovalhouse until 19th October 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for The Fu Manchu Complex here: