reviews | commentary | interviews & profiles

 

REVIEWS:

THE WORLD OF EXTREME HAPPINESS

"Bitter ly funny, sometimes horrifying, The World Of Extreme Happiness is fascinating and ferocious."
Metro | October 2013

"Some playwrights have a gift to amuse; Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig has a darker gift. Anyone with romantic notions of Chinese culture will be unsettled by the jagged, unsentimental portrait of modern urban China."
Chicago Reader | October 2014

"Fearless, zippily-paced, and satirical, shining a light on Chinese society’s necessary doublethink, be that willful blindness to the political past, or an equally blind belief in an impossibly brilliant future."
The Independent | October 2013

"The play launches from satiric to sincere, political to personal and, yes, comic to devastatingly tragic.  It’s not a confused work, but one that ambitiously seeks to contain the contradictions and disorientations that make up modern China.... This is tough and important terrain to cover, and Cowhig earns enormous credit for finding a means to contain it all intelligently, intelligibly and powerfully."
Variety | September 2014

"There's an unusual freshness and bright savagery about the writing that marks it out as something special, and a sense of ambition and scale, too.... One of the best new plays of the year."
What's On Stage | October 2013

"Grotesquely cartoonish.... Were Cowhig herself not of Chinese descent...she might easily be accused of indulging in the most insulting stereotypes. And the tragic ending of her play in no way mitigates the two-dimensional, almost minstrel-show-like nature of all that precedes it."
Chicago Sun Times | September 2014

"...Offers a window on a hidden world. The play has an epic scope – charting the effects of the Cultural Revolution, the 1989 crushing of the pro-democracy movement, and the cultural shift that has seen China's urban population grow by 400 million in the last 30 years – but it tells history through the lives of those looking for a better life."
The Guardian | October 2013

"A ruder, weirder, funnier, more insidery view of the emerging superpower than that provided by the white British playwrights.... Salty, surreal and bombastic, Cowhig's writing often recalls the in-yer-face Brit playwrights of the '90s."
Time Out | October 2013

 

410[GONE]

"Thanks to Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s mesmerizing and ultimately moving 410[GONE]...we know that the afterlife, or at least one vision of it, involves deities from Chinese mythology playing Dance Dance Revolution. "
Theatre Dogs | June 2013

"410[GONE] is set at...symbolic crossroads, between knee-high boots and deity, pop culture and Chinese religious syncretism. A previous Hyphen review called Frances a 'fearless, fiercely intellectual writer whose work unsettlingly thematizes the transgression of boundaries...' This reviewer simply adds that she can also write a real tear-jerker without an ounce of nostalgia or a trace of sentimentality. If you cry at this play, don’t worry. It’s just because it hurts so good. "
Hyphen | June 2013

"Much of the fun of the play comes from the gods, but it's really the story of the siblings that makes it work and takes it into unexpectedly dark and resonant places. It's the aching humanity under the otherworldly hijinks that makes it all pay off, and ultimately makes you question who the real goddess of mercy in this story is. "
KQED | June 2013

 

LIDLESS

"Lidless is harsh political theatre. Lidless doesn't want to be liked; it wants to change you. It is powerful enough to do just that."
Tucson Sentinel | April 2012

"Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, in a tremendously accomplished debut, considers the moral legacy of American foreign policy in the most emotionally devastating way....Reframing global politics on a domestic scale, she turns headline news into a modern-day tragedy."
The Scotsman | August 2010

"Yet another anti-US diatribe, faulting us for the real and alleged cruelties of war while giving the shadowy and fanatical enemy a pass. It’s academic post-colonialism at its facile worst, a doctrinaire indictment of America which, perhaps along with Israel, is the only place standing in the way of the new world socialist order....Zero stars."
The Washington Times | August 2010

"Because the action embodies the consequences of parents' invasive behaviour on their own children, [LIDLESS] makes a far more lasting impact than anything offered from politicians in this election on the subject of war or generational damage."
The Guardian | May 2010

 

COMMENTARY:

Performance, Law and the Race So Different
Joshua Takano Chambers-Letson | January 2014

Emerging Voices, Strangers in the Theatre
Jenny Lee | Hyphen Magazine | December 2012

 

INTERVIEWS/PROFILES:

Filling the Gap: Frances Cowhig tackles three plays about China [PDF] 
Theatre Forum | Fall 2014

Playwright Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig on "The World of Extreme Happiness" 
Chicagoist | September 2014

"Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig"
Tank Magazine | February 2014

Talking Trauma: An Interview with Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig
Caridad Svich | September 2011

Profile in Venus Magazine [PDF]
Venus Magazine | Fall 2010

Covering New Ground [PDF]
The Write Perspective | Fall 2009

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