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Ching Chong Chinaman 

When: Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Continues through Oct. 11 2008
Price: $10-$15

Lauren Yee's Ching Chong Chinaman is whip-smart and terribly funny, in a snappy Impact Theatre production by Desdemona Chiang with a strong cast. Sung Min Park is immediately sympathetic in his attentive incomprehension as Jin Qiang -- whom clueless dad Ed Wong calls "Ching Chong" -- an indentured servant that teenager Upton (Arthur Keng) has brought over from China to do his homework so he can play World of Warcraft all day long. Cindy Im as daughter Desdemona is hilariously high-stress and mortified by everything her parents do. Dennis Yen is full of sitcom-dad charm as the good-natured Ed, and Lisa Kang is amusing as exaggeratedly childlike mom Grace. The story is full of twists both hilarious and sobering, and clever use of magical realism, deftly embodied by Pearl Wong as a multitude of characters who usually aren't actually there. Through October 10 at La Val's Subterranean (1834 Euclid Ave., Berkeley) or 510-464-4468.

— Sam Hurwitt


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