Gone in a heartbeat

Immortal Heart

Julia Cho in the touring production of Immortal Heart<i>.</i>

Julia Cho in the touring production of Immortal Heart.

Rated 5.0

This professional production by San Francisco’s Z Space Studio, hosted by Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra (CATS), takes an Amy Tan story from her novel The Bonesetter’s Daughter and transfers it from page to stage, almost literally word for word.

This is not “readers’ theater” with performers holding notebooks. Immortal Heart is elaborately staged, with a cast of nine, considerable action, lots of costumes, deft lighting, incidental music by former Chanticleer singer Randall Wong and an evocative set by Mikiko Uesugi. It’s a visual feast.

First produced in 2004, and now on tour and headed for France, this show picked up multiple awards from Bay Area critics. It’s easy to see why. It’s an excellent production by any standard, but it’s also uncommonly faithful to the author’s intent. And it depicts a way of life that we rarely see onstage. Immortal Heart relates a tragic, compelling story about women in a village in pre-Revolutionary China where marriage was negotiated in cagey deals between families, wealthy men often took a second wife (whose status was much lower than the first), and many people believed in ghosts and spirits.

Immortal Heart is one of the best and most unusual shows you’ll see this year. But it has a very brief run, with just five performances remaining at the Nevada Theatre in Nevada City.