Vancouver theatre, Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre, The Frank Theatre Company, Minh Ly, homophobia

B.C. Lee plays Hong and Michael Antonakos is Matt in Ga Ting

Ga Ting is a necessary—and welcome—play, but neither the script nor the production is polished.

In Ga Ting, which translates from the Chinese as Family, first-time playwright Minh Ly imagines a meeting between a Matt, a white gay man who has just lost his partner Kevin to suicide, and Kevin’s Chinese-Canadian parents, Hong and Mei Lee. It’s the first time that the mom and dad have laid eyes on the lover.

In terms of marketing, this show, which is co-produced by Vancouver Asian Canadian Theatre and the Frank Theatre Company, has situated itself well. They’ve got a Chinese title, a Chinese-Canadian playwright, and they’re presenting the show at the Richmond Cultural Centre. As the script unfolds in both English and Cantonese, surtitles keep everybody up to speed. Theatre makers often fret about how to get audiences of colour into the theatre. This is how.

My understanding, through friends and other sources, is that being queer and Asian can be particularly tough. On opening night, the apparent laughs of recognition from the audience, which included lots of Asian folks, seemed to bear that out. So full credit to Ly for providing an opportunity for discussion.

Ly’s play is clearly heartfelt, and sometimes it’s moving.

Still, the script is not well constructed. Ly’s dialogue is often naive and on the nose. Defending Kevin’s gay friends, Matt proclaims, “They embraced Kevin for who he was. As a whole.” And, almost as soon as he arrives at Hong and Mei’s house, Matt starts to lecture them about their alienation from their gay son. “I’m not blaming you for what happened,” he says disingenuously. “I’m just saying you could have talked to your son more when he was alive.” Given Matt’s goal of reconciliation, this behaviour doesn’t make a lick of sense. And why the hell don’t Mei and Hong kick Matt out when he goes on the attack?

Michael Antonakos, who plays Matt, softens the characters aggression by adding charm. And Alannah Ong’s deeply felt Mei is the heart of the show.

Clearly, there’s a ton of good will behind this project. Scripts don’t have to be perfect to make a difference. And this one will make a difference.

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.


  1. Dear Colin,

    It was a great honour for us to have you attending our show “Ga Ting”. When my daughter Laara told me that you were at the theatre, I gasped, “Oh my God!” Thank you for your constructive review.

    A heart-felt big “Thank you” for commenting on my performance – “Alannah Ong’s deeply felt Mei is the heart of the
    show”! You have made my day. Much appreciated.

    Minh ly is going to transcribe it into a movie script. We’re hoping to make it into a film.

    Laara & I are starting to write a new movie script “Double Violin Concerto”. We would need your help to make it into a success! I’ll be leaving for HK on April 7th, but Laara will be staying here.

    Wishing you all the best! Happy Easter to you & your loved ones!

    Warmest regards,
    Alannah Ong

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