Legacy of the Tiger Mother

ADELAIDE FRINGE: While acknowledging all that is humorous about strict Asian parenting, this engaging production explores all that is admirable and loving in such relationships as well.
Legacy of the Tiger Mother
Legacy of the Tiger Mother is the story of Lily and her daughter Mei. Many years ago, Lily escaped China for the United States, where she raised Mei to strive for strict perfection, especially in piano. Now Mei has a daughter of her own, also learning piano, and as an important recital looms, Lily arrives to make sure the girl is being pushed hard enough. Through argument, song and flashback, Mei and Lily remember Mei's own childhood, one where 'success in piano meant success in life'!

Legacy of the Tiger Mother nods affectionately at most of the clichés about immigrant Asian parenting. Lily runs a laundry and is very competitive with the other Chinese families they know. And, of course, there are some healthy digs at the Suzuki Method of teaching music.

But there is much more than cliché in this show. The characters are painted with depth and motivation. Mei is split between wanting to please her mother and wanting to assimilate. Lily's otherwise comically strict parenting is grounded in an almost blinding need for her daughter to survive and thrive. Her memories of escape and her survivor's guilt give us an understanding and empathy which such characters are seldom granted.

The scene changes are sometimes very long, mostly because the set design is more elaborate than it needs to be.

The music (on piano, of course) is well written and performed, though there are occasional tuning and range problems in the vocals. While some songs go on a little too long, there are some very clever pieces, such as the musical montages to show Mei's progress through her studies.

Legacy of the Tiger Mother acknowledges all that is funny or ridiculous about strict Asian parenting, but explores all that is admirable and loving in such relationships as well.

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Legacy of the Tiger Mother
Writers: Angela Chan and Michael Manley
Director: Lysander Abadia
Musical Director: Angela Chan
Performers: Yen Yen Stender and Chiew-Jin Khut

Adelaide Town Hall, David Spence Room
Until March 10

Adelaide Fringe
February 24 – March 18

Katherine Gale

Tuesday 13 March, 2012

About the author

Katherine Gale is a former student of the Victorian College of the Arts' Music School. Like many VCA graduates, she now works in a totally unrelated field and simply enjoys the arts as an avid attendee.Unlike most VCA graduates, she does this in Adelaide.