At the moment in David Henry Hwang's "Chinglish" when Sino-American business relations develop to the point a Chinese buyer and a U.S. seller find themselves in bed together, you get a sudden flashback to "M. Butterfly." That brilliant 23-year-old drama, which made this playwright's career, explores how Western men have long been vulnerable to the seductive mysteries of the beautiful, er, women of the East. And so, as you watch two bodies move through space in a Chinese hotel room, you first think that Hwang, America's premiere dramatic chronicler of East-West relationships, has returned to an old theme.
Indeed he has. But China has changed. And so, we come to see in this shrewd, timely and razor-sharp comedy premiering at the Goodman Theatre and logically headed to Broadway, has Hwang. The power has shifted in one direction only: East. Skyscrapers now abut opera houses. Bullet trains cut through butterfly gardens. And recession-weary American businessman are left salivating over "the greatest pool of untapped consumers history has ever known."