Jasmine is the kind of show that’s a perfect fit at SummerWorks. It tells the story of a working-class family that immigrated to Canada from Communist China and the strain that emerges between the son, who was raised in Canada and does not speak Cantonese, and his parents, who have never entirely left the old country behind. And what’s more Canadian than a story like that? Jasmine is actually a sequel to Pu-Erh, a popular SummerWorks show from a few years ago.
Pu-Erh was about Father, who spoke no English, and his son Raymond, who spoke no Cantonese, and their difficult attempts to communicate. Jasmine picks up with the same family five years later. Jasmine, the mother, reminisces while preparing for Raymond’s return to British Columbia (he’s been living in New York for the previous 5 years). Father has died, although he is still a presence in the family’s life.
Janet Lo gives a fantastic performance as Jasmine, able to access both the joyful optimism of a young mother preparing to move to another country with the man she loves, and the the disappointed cynicism of an older, lonely woman. The show also has great sound design and sets, not to mention a lovely script by Norman Lup-man Yeung who also plays Raymond. After SummerWorks, Pu-Erh and Jasmine are going to be combined into one full-length play.