These questions have been of enduring dramatic interest to Hwang, and "Yellow Face" finds him in fine contemplative form. There may seem something self-indulgent about a play in which the playwright has a central role. And some may look askance at the way Hwang brings in the story of his late father, Henry Y. Hwang, a prominent California banker who was embroiled in a front-page New York Times scandal involving money laundering for the Chinese government. (Tzi Ma plays both HYH and Wen Ho Lee, and "Yellow Face" draws parallels between their situations.)
But Hwang's tale, though undeniably personal, goes beyond his own narcissistic interests. He's trying to understand the crazy contradictions of being a minority in ceaselessly striving America. And his emotional investment in the subject and his ability, as a dramatist, to imagine the situation from multiple perspectives lends his discussion a felt wisdom that's a refreshing change from the shallow polemics we're too often bombarded with.
The play earns its stage time, even if Silverman has only so-so results with her actors, many of whom have the tricky task of playing multiple characters. Ma finds HYH's obsessive paternal voice and Kim captures Leah's edginess as the ex-girlfriend, but they become exceedingly broad in their sketchier roles.