My review of TIANANMEN ANNIE
By: Miracle Laurie
I am not a critic. I am not a writer. I am an actor and a friend. And I am compelled to write down my experience of Ann Starbuck’s one-woman show, TIANANMEN ANNIE, and share it with whoever will read it.
Normally when a friend says, “you HAVE to come see my one-man/woman-show”, one cringes at the thought. Let’s be honest: they’re hard to pull off. I, however, LOVE my friend Annie and trust her completely. I know that her story is a true one, and a story very important to her. I also know that she’s very funny and a FANTASTIC actress! I know that I will enjoy myself when I go see her one-woman show and most likely be proud of her and her accomplishment.
What I didn’t know, is that I would be completely wowed and transported! The TIANANMEN Square Uprising and Massacre is an event in our World’s History, that I am embarrassed to say, before Ann's show, I knew little about. And apparently, there are many young Chinese people who still have NO idea what that event even is. It is practically forbidden to speak of in China. Ann told me that a group of Chinese students came to see her show last year when it premiered in time for the 25th Anniversary, and that that was the first time they’d ever heard anyone speak of what had happened 25 years prior, and they were completely unaware that it was even an event in their Country’s history.
Now, one wouldn’t think that it was possible to laugh while listening to a story about this moment in time, but believe me: laugh, you will! You see, the play is also about Annie’s journey through China as a young student in the late 80's working as a PA for CNN. Along the way you meet fantastic characters with big personalities. You learn things about the Chinese culture (both things that were probably only true in the late 80’s, but also things that have probably always been and will always be true). You see everything she saw with your very own eyes. Because Ann as a writer (yes – Ann also WROTE the play) and as an actress, is able to paint the most beautiful pictures in your imagination with her thoughtful and exciting storytelling. What I love most about her show is that every single second of it is a true story! It’s fantastic.
She will move you to great fits of laughter, and also create a safe space for you to cry when you learn about the fate of so many of these beautiful people. She will educate you and inspire you. She will inform you and entertain you. Like I said before, I was embarrassed that I didn’t already know more about what happened that night and throughout the entire uprising. But now I know and I am better for it. As an actor, to witness such incredible writing come to life so vividly and articulately. To see someone with Ann’s talent move so gracefully and fully from character to character in the blink of an eye. To experience a piece of theater again, as equally educational as it is entertaining. To witness a friend create and execute to perfection, a beautiful piece of art, theater and truth-telling. I was and still am astounded and overjoyed.
Congratulations, to my friend Ann Starbuck. I love you. You are a star and an inspiration. To you, the reader, whether you be friend or stranger: do yourself a favor and go see TIANANMEN ANNIE! You only have a few chances left. The play is only 75 minutes, but will stay with you the rest of your days.
Sunday, June 21st at 7pm
Monday, June 22nd at 8pm
Saturday, June 27th at 3pm
The Hudson Guild Theater – 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., LA, CA
$15 each, Ages 12+