Writers Theatre presents
Written by Qui Nguyen
Directed by Lavinia Jadhwani
Original Music & Music Direction by Gabriel Ruiz
Choreographed by Tommy Rapley
August 15 – September 23, 2018
The Vietnam War took place from November 1, 1955, through April 30, 1975, with the fall of Saigon in 1975. The war lasted for roughly 19 years, and it was considered one of the most protracted and costly battles in history. More than 3 million people (including over 58,000 Americans) were killed, and more than half of the dead were Vietnamese civilians.
“Vietgone” is a derisive new comedy from one of America Theater’s most pioneering playwrights Qui Nguyen. Nguyen, who primarily grew up in an African American neighborhood in El Dorado, Ark., puts a spin on one of the most paramount moments in history. Nguyen’s innovative approach and creativity of the play infuses rap music that transports you through time and across the globe.
The play tells the story of two young survivors who were displaced and meet in a Vietnamese refugee camp in Mid-America in 1975 shortly after the fall of Saigon. Coming to grips withthe strange land that they now reside in filled with hippies, bikers, and cowboys, the two fall in love with one another despite their extraordinary circumstances.
After the war, Tong, played by Aurora Adachi-Winter, wants nothing more than to get away from their war-torn country and her boyfriend (played by Ian Michael) and start fresh in America with her mother and brother. However, her brother is in love and refuses to flee without his fiancé. Although Tong’s mother accompanies her to the United States, she wants nothing more than to go back home to be with her son.
Quang, a pilot who served in the war (played by Matthew C. Yee), decides to ride his motorcycle across the country in the bewildering and foreign landscape of the 1970s in America with his best-friend, another Vietnamese immigrant played by Rammel Chan. Quang, who has reluctantly left a wife and two children behind, has an agenda to go back for them when he reaches California; however, his BFF is not in agreement with his plan.
Emjoy Gavino, Tong’s mother, meets Quang in a restaurant one day and merges a friendship. Along the way, she devises a plan for herself to try to get back home. However, as fate has it, Tong and Quang also meet, and an explosive relationship starts to swelter causing gears to shift in an entirely different direction.
Director Lavinia Jadhwani brings the heart-wrenching story of Vietgone to life with a fresh perspective of boldness and sexiness. Vietgone will have you laughing one moment, bobbing your head to the rhythms and beats in another, and in pure joy and feeling the pain of this romance and comedy.
Playwright Qui Nguyen’s humor, which is a part of his personality, is precisely placed in this play to bring just the right amount of joy, laughter, and thrills. Thank you, Mommy Nguyen, for helping him see that his delightful character was needed to bring this play to life.
All of the actors in “Vietgone” do a remarkable job and make this play believable and worth a trip to Writers Theatre. The chemistry between Aurora and Quang was brilliant, and Emjoy Gavino as the mother almost stole the show with her performance. Please pay special attention to the messages delicately inserted into the play. They are a refreshing reminder that we need to come together regardless of our differences.
Let’s Play highly recommends that you check it out at Writers Theatre in Glencoe, Ill.; but be aware, “Vietgone” contains strong language and adult themes.
The cast includes:
Aurora Adachi-Winter (Tong)
Rammel Chan (Asian Guy/American Guy/Nhan/Khue)
Emjoy Gavino (Asian Girl/American Girl/Thu/Huong/Translator/FlowerGirl),
Ian Michael Minh (Playwright/Giai/Bobby/Captain Chambers/Redneck Biker/Hippie Dude)
Matthew C. Yee (Quang)