Alvin Tran, Isaac Kwok

It’s often said that what happens in Vegas usually stays in Vegas. But what if you spend each and every Saturday for three years waiting for something to happen that never does?

The Theory of Everything takes in a group of seven Asian-Americans who gather on top of the Chapel of Love, owned by husband and wife team Hiro (BC Lee) and Patty (Aurora Chan). When Grandma May (Linda Leong Sum) claims to have seen a UFO spaceship on the roof one evening, it sparks Lana (Quynh Mi) to lead a vigil should the aliens return.

Isaac Kwok, Alvin Tran, Qunh Mi
[Isaac Kwok, Alvin Tran, Qunh Mi]

The stage is set in the round, with a card table and chairs in one corner, and a lounge chair and plants in another. This space is mostly where May (brilliantly made up by makeup wiz Tamara Caviglia to look 65) holds the fort, spending most of the two act play in a sublimely reclined position on the lounge chair.

UFO books are strewn across the card table and on the side of the stage, keeping the alien theme in check. A lovingly created illuminated Chapel of Love mixed media art piece is suspended by a couple of chains off to the side of the stage.

What transpires for the rest of the evening are a series of stories told through the eyes of these seven people spanning three generations, connected by their various cultures. They’ve all assimilated into the American lifestyle, though some have had a rougher time of it than others.

Yvette Lu, Linda Leong Sum, Aurora Chan
[Yvette Lu, Linda Leong Sum, Aurora Chan]

The characters harmonize well together, each one with a personal tale to tell. My favourite character is Hiro, who dreams of winning the Super Lotto so that he can finally return to his native Japan. By the time the show’s over, he’s made a decision that impacts several other characters.

There are several comedic and tender moments woven throughout the two act (with intermission) play, with standout roles by BC Lee as Hiro and Isaac Kwok as Nef, Lana’s brother.

While the stories told were both entertaining and thoughtful, I didn’t find the end that captivating, one that had little to do with another UFO sighting, but rather something off-cuff that left me wishful for something more substantial.

Thai-American playwright Prince Gomolvilas‘ writing has been described as a combination of Kevin Smith and Diablo Cody. He’s also one of the foremost Asian-American award winning playwrights on the scene; The Theory of Everything has won three major awards. His other plays include Big Hunk o’ Burnin’ Love and the stage adaptation of Scott Helm’s novel, Mysterious Skin.

Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre’s The Theory of Everything continues through January 13 at the Roundhouse Performance Centre.


  • Comment by Gerald — January 12, 2013 @ 9:53 pm

    Good accurate review. To me, Grandma May’s ending monologue was a bit of a contemporary theatrical device trendy with certain popular performers at the Fringe Festival with a bit of a take on the Beckett’s theatre of the absurd thrown in. While much of this play dealt with a variety of normal life’s problems and situations, the ufo element provided the absurd aspect. The ending was the trendy mirroring of real and imaginary world of the story being acted and the audience reality. I agree that was unnecessarily esoteric and just keeping to the magic of the story situation would have been more enjoyable.

  • Comment by arianec — January 14, 2013 @ 1:05 pm

    Thanks, Gerald. I guess the play offers something for everybody in the end. This was my first VACT production, so hopefully other stories will continue to reveal the talent behind the company.

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