Bearing the weight of a humongous nation’s conflicted identity on your shoulders is surely no easy task for an actor. Yet a graceful BD Wong manages it with barely a stoop of self-consciousness in “The Great Leap,” Lauren Yee’s global-vision variation on a by-the-numbers sports soap opera.
对一个演员来说，一个庞大国家的矛盾身份将是一种沉重的负担。但是，在余秀菊(Lauren Yee)以全球视角演绎老套体育肥皂剧的《大跃进》(The Great Leap)中，优雅的黄荣亮(BD Wong)非常自然地驾驭了自己的角色。
Mr. Wong portrays Wen Chang, a Beijing university basketball coach of the 1970s and ’80s, in this congested tale of two countries, which opened on Monday night at the Atlantic Theater Company’s Stage II. Wen Chang’s job has given him unexpected material comforts and, more distressing, a visibility he never asked nor hoped for.
在这个关于中美两国的故事中，黄荣亮饰演的张文（音）是上世纪七八十年代北京一所大学的篮球教练。该剧周一在大西洋剧团(Atlantic Theater Company)二号舞台(Stage II)开演。张文的工作让他获得了意想不到的物质享受，但让他比较苦恼的是，他也获得了自己从未要求或期望的名声。
A rehabilitated product of the Cultural Revolution, Wen Chang explains that “growing up, you did not want to be someone”: “You wanted to be the person three people behind someone. Because being someone could get you killed.”
And while Mr. Wong has stage presence to burn, his Wen Chang conveys what might be called a radiant invisibility throughout this four-character comic drama, directed by Taibi Magar. That is a useful trait for someone who turns out to have a much more dangerously storied past than he lets on.
Playing a charismatic Chinese national with a really big secret was what first brought Mr. Wong fame (not to mention a Tony Award), when he portrayed the title role in David Henry Hwang’s “M. Butterfly” 30 years ago. Audiences who know him largely for keeping a straight face as a medical theory-quoting forensic psychiatrist on “Law & Order: SVU” may well want to take this chance to see how artfully he still commands a stage.
Ms. Yee (“The Hatmaker’s Wife,” “King of the Yees”) has written a part for him that combines thoughtful research and an imaginative empathy for the Chinese generation that grew up in the stunting shadow of Mao Zedong. “The Great Leap” is at its most affecting when Wen Chang simply tells — or avoids telling — his own story, with a restrained wistfulness for chances lost that bring to mind the self-betraying monologists of Alan Bennett’s “Talking Heads” series.
The ways in which this life is linked to the others in the play tax credibility, though. Ms. Yee connects generation-and-nation-spanning dots with a labored hand. At the plot’s center is a 1989 exhibition basketball game between college teams from Beijing and San Francisco, which reunites their respective coaches, Wen Chang and his American counterpart, Saul (Ned Eisenberg, feisty and foul-mouthed, of course).
A stereotypical tough-love coach, Saul had gone to Beijing 18 years earlier to advise the then-neophyte Wen Chang on coaching. Now Saul, whose job is in jeopardy, is returning to China to see what his former mentee has become and, he assumes, to beat the pants off the boys of Beijing. (Takeshi Kata’s basketball-court set, fluidly accented by David Bengali’s projections, functions as an all-purpose international arena.)
作为一名刻板、严厉的教练，索尔18年前去过北京，为当时还是新手的张文提供指导。现在，索尔面临着失业的风险，他回到中国，想看看他以前的学员变成了什么样子，他认为，他会把北京的孩子打得落花流水（加太武志[Takeshi Kata，音]设计的篮球场布景，在戴维·班加利[David Bengali]的投影的恰当突出下，变成了一个万能的国际竞技场）。
Saul’s secret weapon is Manford (a tirelessly revved-up Tony Aidan Vo), a Chinese-American high school student and basketball prodigy who has talked his way into participating. Manford, it turns out, has ulterior motives for going to Beijing, known only to his foster cousin, Connie (Ali Ahn).
索尔的秘密武器是曼福德（Manford，不知疲倦、跃跃欲试的托尼·艾丹·武[Tony Aidan Vo]饰），一名美籍华裔高中生和篮球神童，他想尽办法才说服教练让他参加了比赛。结果发现，曼福德去北京是别有用心，只有他家收养的表姐妹康妮（Connie，阿莉·安[Ali Ahn]饰）知道他的真实意图。
What makes Manford run is revealed by teasing degrees, though you’re likely to figure it out long before the last foul shot. The knottiness of his motives is further snarled by the timing of the exhibition match, which takes place at the height of the Tiananmen Square student protests. Private grievances and public discord come together in a down-to-the-wire tiebreaker as millions watch on television throughout the world.
As you may have gathered, “The Great Leap” — as befits a play whose title refers both to modern Chinese history and athletic prowess — ambitiously straddles several well-worn narrative forms, and not without strain. The play is replete with the clichés of sports underdog nail-biters, angry-young-teen stories and roads-not-taken dramas of middle-age regret.
But Ms. Magar, who has shone as a director of genre-bending works like “Is God Is” and “Underground Railroad Game,” keeps the more conventional machinery of “The Great Leap” moving at a well-oiled pace. And the performances are smooth and credible, even when the plot is not.
不过，马加尔曾出色地执导过《上帝是……》(Is God Is)和《地下铁路游戏》(Underground Railroad Game)等跨体裁作品，她以流畅的节奏推进了《大跃进》较为传统的架构。而且该剧的表演始终流畅、可信，尽管剧情并非如此。
This is a show, after all, that brazenly concludes its first act by having Saul, who is about to leave for Beijing with his team, ask, “It’s China, four days, what could happen?” That’s one of those hoary questions that can be relied on to open the floodgates for a tidal wave of mishaps, misunderstandings and collisions. In that regard, “The Great Leap” does not disappoint.