Tag Archives: Daniel York Loh



Soho Theatre



“defies genres whilst remaining coherent and witty”

Written by Dan York Loh the piece is a thoughtful and vivid exploration of the experience of being mixed race in a working class British small town and also a reflection on Chinese philosophy, with further references to the legacy of economic austerity, lack of opportunities and alienation. The play features punk symphonies and psychedelic rock throughout. The actors tell the story of a character’s life, relaying personal events that make up the ‘unrepresentative experience’ of being mixed race in Britain. Interactions with memories and spiritual characters such as the Master of the Opaque are mixed into music and cheerful radio announcements for the EA Podcast. Directed by Alice Kornitzer, the show is in a free form style and the benefits of this freedom are utilised very effectively.

York Loh defies genres whilst remaining coherent and witty. Video projections paint the scene behind on the white walls of the set, providing abstract artistic visuals of the scenes. Composed by An-Ting Chang, the cast take up instruments to perform songs seamlessly and transitions are inventive and effective. During the midpoint the stage separates to reveal an octagonal screen, evoking a Pink Floyd gig as well as a wooden dock, emulating an older setting. The music is vibrant and sometimes angry. Songs about “The East vs West” and “Virtuosity” add to the reflective stream-of-consciousness style, whilst also being enjoyable musical moments. The base guitar hits through the lead’s oscillating notes whilst spoken word and lyrics are delivered.



The story utilises Chinese philosophy to talk about the narrator’s life, referencing the ‘Dao’ or ‘the way’ to talk about the various paths one can take in life. The character refuses to tell a cliche story, admitting they didn’t have a stereotypical upbringing; “lived in a 70s sitcom” and attended a Catholic school and stole cars. The play regularly breaks the fourth wall, addressing the audience and reflecting on how the show is being perceived; “far too indignant for subtlety”. The play discusses racism experienced by the narrator, in particularly, a haunting nursery rhyme is recited at various moments; “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, what are these”. The layers of this childhood insult are explored and dismantled. There are also reflections on crime, solidarity and the quest for identity. No and again there was some lack of clarity and some topics felt less explored than others. There was room for some tightening on the closing of the first act and as the writer says “the show’s already long enough”, but these issues don’t take away from the overall experience.

The actors portray the various spiritual characters flashbacks. Melody Chikakane Brown playing Master Obscure and Master Opaque with humour and wisdom whilst also portraying the main character in the flashbacks. Aruhan Galieva delivers impressive vocals and singing with energy and talent whilst also bringing levity through their flashback characters. Daniel York Loh plays guitar and minor characters, allowing the other performers to carry the major plot moments. The play is brilliantly unique and wonderfully performed, with the spirit of punk and rock permeating throughout.



Reviewed on 21st June 2024

by Jessica Potts

Photography © Soho Theatre






Previously reviewed at this venue:

JAZZ EMU | ★★★★★ | June 2024
BLIZZARD | ★★★★ | May 2024
BOYS ON THE VERGE OF TEARS | ★★★★ | April 2024
DON’T. MAKE. TEA. | ★★★★★ | March 2024
PUDDLES PITY PARTY | ★★ | March 2024
LUCY AND FRIENDS | ★★★★★ | February 2024
AMUSEMENTS | ★★★★ | February 2024
WISH YOU WEREN’T HERE | ★★★ | February 2024
REPARATIONS | ★★★ | February 2024



Click here to see our Recommended Shows page


Forgotten – 3 Stars



Arcola Theatre

Reviewed – 31st October 2018


“Forgotten is a play which should most certainly take its place in our global collective memory”


Daniel York Loh’s play takes as its subject the forgotten contribution of the WW1 Chinese Labour Corps – approximately 140,000 in number – who supported the Allies and, in no small part, paved the way for the shaping of modern China. The cast of six take us on a journey from a rural village in China to 1920s Paris, by way of the trenches and a French munitions factory, and, for the most part, it is a compelling and enlightening ride. Three of Forgotten’s central protagonists are part of a rural theatre troupe, and the play begins with their stylised performance of a folk-tale, complete with the striking high pitch and rising cadence associated with Chinese opera. It is a clever device through which to catapult this 21st century London audience into a different world, and immediately emphasises how little we know of China and its history and traditions. This theatrical form was continually woven through the tapestry of the piece, with greater and lesser degrees of success, but at its best moments – the Eunuch Lin facing down German shell-fire with song and dance – was uniquely arresting. Credit must be given here to Quang Kien Van’s perfectly tuned movement direction, which so deftly transformed the villagers/soldiers into performers when the occasion demanded.

Emma Bailey’s excellent design, complemented by Jessica Hung Han Yun’s lighting and Luke Swaffield’s sound, artfully created the play’s various different worlds, and Kim Pearce (Director) ensured that the narrative rarely lost pace. There were some lovely performances to boot. This reviewer was particularly charmed by the open-faced and open-hearted Big Dog (engagingly played by Camille Mallet De Chauny), and the other-worldly innocence of the Eunuch Lin (beautifully portrayed by Zachary Hing). In many ways, the play’s central character is The Professor (Leo Wan). He is educated and aspirational, frequently railing against China’s status in the world and yearning for Western cultural and technological sophistication. He begins the piece as a hopeful optimist, convinced that once the fighting has died down, his country and his fellows will finally be given the golden ticket. Wan perfectly captures this sweet, earnest man and provides the play with some gentle but essential comedy moments – his explanation of the muddled alliance and origins of the war being a particular highlight. His final act of anger and defiance is the play’s most powerful image, and justifies the otherwise slightly limp final section, set in postwar Paris.

By shining a light, a hundred years after the end of the Great War, on the shameful omission of the CLC from the numerous narratives of Allied victory, Daniel York Loh’s Forgotten is a vital piece of theatre, and deserves a longer run and a larger stage. It is a complex piece, grappling with themes of colonialism, the price of technological progress, the plight of rural women, and, in a meta-theatrical fashion, the power and role of theatre itself. Occasionally the piece strains under the weight of this thematic density. The post-war exposition seems clumsy, and the play’s language – a melting pot of Confucian poetry, delicious archaic swearing, French and English – occasionally becomes overly dissonant and would benefit from a bit of editorial finesse. It is to be hoped that Loh can harness some further investment to keep working, because Forgotten is a play which should most certainly take its place in our global collective memory.

Reviewed by Rebecca Crankshaw

Photography by Jack Sain


Arcola Theatre


Arcola Theatre until 17th November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Heretic Voices | ★★★★ | January 2018
Fine & Dandy | ★★★★★ | February 2018
The Daughter-in-Law | ★★★★ | May 2018
The Parade | ★★★ | May 2018
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives | ★★★★★ | June 2018
The Rape of Lucretia | ★★★★ | July 2018
Elephant Steps | ★★★★ | August 2018
Greek | ★★★★ | August 2018
Mrs Dalloway | ★★★★ | October 2018


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