White on the inside, yellow on the outside – that is the definition of a banana boy. The play tells the story of five banana boys and their struggles to get ahead.Are they better to compete with the white guys or the FOB’s? (Fresh of the Boat) But it is also the story of five young men moving from late teens to adult hood. The teens are well captured – the frenetic activity, impulsive actions, jumping from one subject to the next are all familiar to anyone who has lived with these young men.
Part of Factory Theatre’s naked season, the play was easily adapted to the theme. It did not need costumes or sets, as it is all about the interaction among the friends. The cast was very professional and developed their characters as well as the play allowed. Not all five roles have the same depth. Darrel Gamin (Sheldon Kwan), Matthew Gin (Mike Chao) and Simu Liu (Rick Wong) had the larger roles and more opportunity to show their acting skills. But mention must be made of Phillip Noziuka’s (Luke Yeung) hilarious imitation of the overbearing Chinese mother. Oliver Koomatsira was also interesting, particularly when he turned around,let down his hair and became a girl!
The play was developed in 2002 and had its world premiere in 2005. The issues it raises about acceptance of the immigrant in society, about the struggle to grow up and fit in somewhere are sill relevant today and will be for a long time.