The World of Extreme Happiness OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Sara Krulwich

  • Opening Night:
    February 3, 2015
    March 29, 2015

    Theater: New York City Center / 130 West 55th Street, New York, NY, 10019


    Unwanted from the moment she was born, Sunny is determined to escape her life in rural China and forge a new identity in the city. As naïve as she is ambitious, Sunny views her new job in a grueling factory as a stepping-stone to untold opportunities. When fate casts her as a company spokeswoman at a sham PR event, Sunny’s bright outlook starts to unravel in a series of harrowing and darkly comic events, as she begins to question a system that enriches itself by destroying its own people.

  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The World of Extreme Happiness

    ‘The World of Extreme Happiness,’ About China and Gender

    Charles Isherwood

    February 24, 2015: Sunny, the heroine of The World of Extreme Happiness, may at times have a cheerful disposition, but there’s a bitter irony in this beleaguered young woman charting an odyssey through contemporary China while carrying the burden of such a hopeful name. Not a lot of sunlight filters down through the smog-clogged skies to brighten her hard life. Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s drama, which opened on Tuesday at City Center in a Manhattan Theater Club production (with the Goodman Theater in Chicago), begins on a note of grim humor as a young woman, Xiao Li (Jo Mei), in the throes of labor, curses her unborn child and cries out for relief. Her husband, Li Han (James Saito) exchanges raunchy talk with a fellow villager, utterly indifferent to his wife’s suffering. (The explosions of vulgarity from both the male and female characters give the impression that Chinese peasants take particular pleasure in profanity.) Li’s indifference turns to irritation when he learns that his wife has given birth to yet another daughter. “A boy is a child,” he says glumly to the midwife. “A girl is a thing.” Just how negligible a thing is indicated when Li opens the pig slop bucket sitting near him, and the midwife tosses the newborn inside. Li then spits into the bucket.



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