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Review Mon May 03 2010

Review: Jade Heart

Thumbnail image for JADE HEART.JPG

Photo: Jeff Hines

For many, adoption is viewed as an ideal way to provide a solid foundation for a child; however, when that adoption crosses racial and ethnic lines, it can be met with a variety of challenges. In Will Cooper's Jade Heart, the challenges of multicultural adoption are explored as a Chinese woman pursues her quest to claim her heritage.

Jade Heart, which premiered last weekend at the Chicago Dramatists, is the story of "Jade" (Christine Bunuan) and the complex relationship between her and her adoptive white mother, "Brenda" (Ginger Lee McDermott). The story showed Jade at three different phases of her life: as a precocious, naïve girl, a rebellious teen, and finally, a confident, young adult. Throughout these various phases, Jade searched to establish and connect with her Chinese culture through a caregiver, friends, her dreams, etc.

While Jade's relationship with Brenda initially seemed strong, it took an interesting turn during Jade's rebellious, adolescent years, which were marked by her sarcastic references to Brenda as an "infertile Westerner" or via having repeatedly told her, "You're not my real mother." As Jade became a young woman, that rebelliousness diminished and a more serious and focused quest to learn about her identity began.
Brenda also went through her own "phases"; some that showed her as kind and understanding and in others, exposed her dormant views about the Chinese culture ("I'm sick of you and this whole 'Chinese' thing" and "You're lucky to be adopted to America.") As the story moved on, Brenda's back and forth moods became increasingly confusing to follow and her outbursts, at times, seem misplaced.

The play was uneven in the time it spent on Jade's constant questions about wanting to know where she came from as opposed to focusing on what perhaps are the dynamics of and issues faced by multicultural adoptions. Also, Jade's dream sequences were all over the place, but not so much that it completely took away from the story.
Bunuan was fantastic as she played her character in all her phases, infusing the right amount of charm, compassion, innocence, wit and humor along the way.

Jade Heart runs through May 30 at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave. Tickets: $25-$30; contact 312-633-0630 or for more information.

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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