The Story Behind the Photo: "Fast Company"

Tania Thompson
 | May 07, 2021
Fast Company
Jackie Chung, Emily Kuroda, Lawrence Kao and Nelson Lee in the world premiere of Fast Company by Carla Ching (2013). Photo by Debora Robinson.

About ​​​Fast Company

Mable Kwan is the best grifter who ever lived. And this tough cookie raised her kids to be just like her. Son Francis is the top roper around and H, the number one fixer. When daughter Blue surprises them all by putting together the score of the decade, will the entire family get in on the action or will one of them walk away with it all? Fast, funny dark and dangerous—this skewed look at family and ambition keeps us guessing about who’s on top and who’s getting conned.

Lawrence Kao made his South Coast Repertory debut in the world premiere of Fast Company by Carla Ching (2013). It’s a heist and grifter story—you ​don't know whom to believe or trust​. Kao found working with the cast and director Bart DeLorenzo to be memorable, along with the magic tricks he learned to become Francis, one member of a family of grifters. Read on to find out why this moment in the play is one of his favorites.

What moment does this depict?

Fast Company centers around a grifting family unit and, in this specific scene, the siblings—H, Francis (my character) and Blue—attempt to con Mable, our mother, into disclosing the whereabouts of an elusive multimillion-dollar comic book that she’s stolen from us. We called this the meat locker scene. Here, I pretend to be “The Dentist”, the most feared gun-for-hire in the con industry, and threaten to chop H, my brother, into pieces unless Mable releases what we want. Look at that meat cleaver in my hand!

How did you work to make this moment happen?

It ​was pleasure to work with Bart DeLorenzo and this was a fun moment to shape. Obviously, my character is playing a con, but it was also interesting to convince the audience that maybe my character could, indeed, be “The Dentist.” We figured out a way to convincingly slice a piece of finger off H (played by Nelson Lee). The gasps from audience members always tickled me! I also remember screwing up a line to my sister, Blue (played by Jackie Chung), and I followed up with the words: “Just kidding!”  Oh, the magical blunders of theatre.  

What’s the power about this moment?

There are a lot of psychological games being played throughout this play and it culminates in this moment, where we use the power of “family” to get our mother, Mable (Emily Kuroda), to disclose information about the comic. Eventually, we discover the bigger, underbelly con played by Mable herself, who has only a short time left to live. Her last con-hoorah closes the distance between her three children, who have drifted apart over the years.  

Anything else you’d like to say about the photo or the production?

This was such a fantastic experience!  I even got to learn a few magic tricks for Francis and that was so much fun. The cast was such a delight to work with. It’s great to do theatre and continue to have lasting relationships with these great artists. This was my first production at South Coast Repertory and I lucked out with the combo of Bart DeLorenzo and Carla Ching and a theatre production I will never forget.