With its DJ overhead mixing transitions between scenes and its two young protagonists riffing at warp speed about cultural stereotyping, over-parenting and the plain fact that sometimes thing suck, playwright Mike Lew’s Tiger Style at La Jolla Playhouse works overtime at being hip and relevant. It succeeds in Act 1, even though too often the diatribes delivered by co-stars Jackie Chung and Raymond J. Lee sound as if they’re coming right off the page of Lew’s sharpened script and not from any semblance to reality. This can be funny, however, as when the exasperated brother and sister Jennifer and Albert decide to go “western”: she resists analysis n a shrink’s office; he goes rogue at his office.
Then reality goes out the window completely in Act 2, when Jennifer and Albert go “eastern” instead, as in go to China. The antics there, variously involving a cookie-cutter general and broad humor about government surveillance and confinement in a Chinese prison, take Tiger Style into the unwelcome territory of parody. The abrasiveness of Lew’s “heroes” doesn’t help, either. Their moment of self-awareness at the end feels, shall we say, less than sincere.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.