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Hello Kitty Must Die Pleasance Courtyard – Edinburgh Fringe

The ‘Hello Kitty’ of the show’s title is a reference to the image of the stereotypical subservient Asian woman, a married baby machine who stays at home, because she wouldn’t have the required intellect to hold down a meaningful job anyway and does whatever it is her husband tells her to do – and what to wear and all the rest of it. Yes, sir, no, sir, right away, sir. That sort of expectation of women, Fiona Yu (Sami Ma) believes, ‘must die’. And while she might have reason to believe she’s killed it off for herself, living in the United States and working as an attorney, her father disagrees, continuing to assert his parental authority to the point of arranging a marriage for her.

Hello Kitty Must Die, Curtis Brown Photography.
Hello Kitty Must Die, Curtis Brown Photography.

The title lyric in the title track is, to be fair, memorable, though most of the rest of the music and lyrics aren’t. Interestingly, Fiona still lives at home, which leaving aside any cultural norms specific to the Chinese, would in most contexts mean that if she’s still living under her parents’ roof, she’s still living under her parents’ rules. It’s not like she doesn’t have the income to get her own place. But equally interestingly, she’s been allowed to pursue a legal career in the first place, and not married off to someone immediately after completing compulsory high school education. In other words, it’s complicated, and there are no straightforward solutions. What she does know for certain is that she’s not going to marry someone she doesn’t like, in any sense of the word ‘like’.

Having re-established contact with old school friend Sean, who was expelled from school with justification, it transpires Sean hasn’t changed in certain respects, and can’t help but indulge in the kind of behaviour that gained him notoriety as a schoolboy. It transpires that this is largely to Fiona’s advantage, until such time as it isn’t. Four other actors, Lennox T. Duong, Jully Lee, Ann Hu and Amy Keum, share a large number of characters between them – including friends, colleagues, management, and miscellaneous men who her father insists she must date. Impressively, it’s easy to forget there’s a total cast of five.

The concept of vengeance upon those who do Fiona wrong is a somewhat appealing one, and the way school bullies are dealt with has more than a whiff of Heathers the Musical about it. I’m not sure, however, that it’s really as feminist as it might initially come across at surface level – how much would have been achieved without the outdated outlook of Fiona’s father and the determined will on Sean’s part to take the law into his own hands? At least the dark humour comes across loud and clear thanks to an energetic cast.

3 Star Review

Review by Chris Omaweng

This chilling new show follows Fiona Yu, a high achieving, but highly disillusioned Chinese – American lawyer. Fiona is fed up with the stereotypes forced onto her by a white, patriarchal society – namely that she is the human embodiment of a certain clawless, fangless, voiceless cartoon feline. But she will pay for her own Jimmy Choos and tell anyone who tries to put a damn bow behind her ear to go to Hell.

Through a ruthless combination of sex, violence, and stilettos, Fiona reclaims her anger and takes revenge on the world. She embarks on an unusual journey of self-discovery and creates her own version of the American Dream by eliminating, without fear or remorse, anyone and anything that stands in her way.

Cast Sami Ma
Lennox T. Duong
Jully Lee
Ann Hu
Amy Keum
Novel by Angela S. Choi, now Kate Kamen
Production Company Alchemation
Co-Adaptor Gail Rastorfer
Co-Adaptor Kurt Johns
Composer Cecilia Lin
Lyricist Jessica Wu

Hello Kitty Must Die
Pleasance Courtyard (Pleasance Two), 60 Pleasance, Edinburgh, EH8 9TJ
Wednesday 2nd – Sunday 27th August 2023

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