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Nine Dragons

Nine Dragons
Your Price: $19.95 CDN
Author: Jovanni Sy
Publisher: Talonbooks
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 192
Pub. Date: 2018
ISBN-10: 1772012041
ISBN-13: 9781772012040
Cast Size: 1 woman, 5 men with doubling (alternate casting 1 woman, 7 men)

About the Play:

Nine Dragons is a full-length murder-mystery by Jovanni Sy. It's 1924 in Kowloon, Hong Kong and a killer dubbed the "Kowloon Ripper" is on the loose. Tommy Lam, Hong Kong's most brilliant police detective, is brought on to investigate. Constantly overlooked by his English supervisors, Tommy feels he has something to prove on this case. The leading suspect, however, is Victor Fung, the son of one of the wealthiest families in Asia. A cat-and-mouse game ensues between Tommy and his mysterious nemesis.

Nine Dragons is a hard-boiled detective fiction with a twist: an inquisition into colonialism, racism, assimilation, and the clash of cultures. Set in 1920s Hong Kong, it's the classic mystery/detective genre overlaid with the topical issue of identity – a struggle that any person of colour faces in any society that privileges whiteness. It starts with murder: a wealthy, white woman is found dead. Nigel Dunston-Smith runs the cop shop in Kowloon, and he needs a detective with clout – a fellow white guy, that is – to oversee this high-profile case; his finest detective, Tommy Lam, just won't do. So he partners newbie Sean Heaney with Lam and sends them to Nine Dragons, the most popular nightclub in town, to get some answers from the Fung family. Though they own and frequent the inner-city club, the Fungs live in the wealthiest neighbourhood around – the Peak – where most of the affluent residents are European or British. At first, Lam takes all the guff he gets from the colonials around him. But it doesn't last: caught between his sense of justice and his experience within an unjust system, Lam rages and turns the tables in the second act by joining forces with the Fungs. The final unravelling is, in the words of one theatre critic, "suitably serpentine." True to noir, someone's hiding something, everyone's a double-crosser, the light is always dim and shadowy, and it's always a good time for a few fingers of Scotch. Roaring Kowloon is the perfect setting for this cross-cultural thriller: it's the Hong Kong district that was, at that time, considered dangerously exotic with its dark narrow streets, opium dens, seedy bars, and sex workers.

Nine Dragons premiered in 2017 at Calgary's Vertigo Mystery Theatre and subsequently transferred to Winnipeg's Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and then to Gateway Theatre in Richmond where it won the Jessie Richardson Award for Outstanding New Play in 2018.

Cast: 1 woman, 5 men with doubling (alternate casting 1 woman, 7 men)

What people say:

"...whip-smart...." — Globe and Mail

"...provocative … cinematic...." — Winnipeg Free Press

"...more here than initially meets the eye … [giving it] bite...." —

"...pulls no punches about ranks and race...." — Downtown Calgary

"...impresses...." — Calgary Herald

About the Playwright:

Jovanni Sy is a Canadian playwright, director, and actor, with Chinese-Filipino ancestry. As an actor, he has performed with theatre companies across Canada from Whitehorse to St. John's as well as overseas. Born in Manila, he grew up in Toronto, and studied engineering at the University of Toronto before deciding to become an actor. For twenty years, he was active in the Toronto theatre community and was the Artistic Director of Cahoots Theatre in Toronto from 2004-2009. Moving to British Columbia, he was the Artistic Director of Gateway Theatre in Richmond from 2012-2019.

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