Interview: Playwright Keiko Green talks about writing EXOTIC DEADLY: OR THE MSG PLAY at The Old Globe

"You will be entertained, that is my promise.”

Review: SINGIN' IN THE RAIN at New Village Arts will have you tapping your feet and wishing for some rainFood, family, and fantasy are at the heart of EXOTIC DEADLY: OR THE MSG PLAY now playing at The Old Globe through May 7th. Playwright Keiko Geen talks about what inspired this fun and fantastical 90's influenced teenage coming-of-age story.

As told by Ami, a young high school girl, is content to float along the background unnoticed, when suddenly the world is hyping the dangers of MSG, and Ami learns that her grandfather had a hand in inventing it. Plus, Ami is intrigued by a new girl at school named Exotic Deadly who could never fade into the background. Soon the teen is on a time-traveling adventure to save herself and those she loves.

Keiko Green says that having the main character be a teenage girl, an age where everyone is impressionable and changeable, allowed for playfulness in the tone and approach of the show.

"This play is joyful, and silly, following an unreliable narrator. Our play, even when we were thinking of set and c costumes, and character design - there's a meta theatricality to the play and there are moments where she's not quite as in control anymore overall the play is inside the mind of the 14-year-old girl. The set is great and very 90's and can the costumes be a little elevated and heightened because they're her version of how things are happening. It has a playfulness that is really fun."

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While the play explores learning and celebrating Ami's Asian American cultural identity, and the shame of feeling "different" from those you are growing up around, the themes are universal to everyone. No one escapes high school without trying to figure out who you are, and who you want to be, and feeling somewhere stuck in between those two points.

Written during the pandemic, while health misinformation was a hotly debated topic, Green says that working on the play was helpful during a challenging time.

"Just before the pandemic, I had written a couple of scenes and the monologue. Then the pandemic hit and that monologue felt freeing in a way; a character that doesn't cuss, and is quite wholesome actually, and she's trying her best. I love coming-of-age stories and so there s something really freeing about being able to talk about your identity issues through a teenager.

I just want to write something that makes me laugh and I can write about a subject that's kind of complicated about MSG and misinformation and write it in a way that is constantly surprising me then I'm just going to keep going. It became an outlet when we were going through tragedy in our house."

The play was commissioned as a part of The Old Globe's Powers New Voices Festival of readings and Green says that it is important to her that people of all ages and backgrounds know that this play is for everyone. It's a fun coming-of-age adventure, that will make you laugh.

"I don't want people to feel like they're not welcome - it's not a lecture, it's going to be a lot of fun. It moves fast and I want people to connect to the story, there is real heart to the play, but my goal is that we are entertaining you from beginning to end. You will be entertained, that is my promise."

How To Get Tickets

EXOTIC DEADLY: OR THE MSG PLAY is playing at The Old Globe through May 7th. For ticket and show time information go to

Keiko Green is a playwright and a performer and you can follow her on Instagram at Keikothegreen

Photo credit: The Old Globe and Rich Soublet II



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