Qui Nguyen (with Original Music by Shane Rettig)
City Lights Theater Company
On the surface, a story detailing the journey of some Vietnamese immigrants as they escape the fall of Saigon in 1975 and land in a refugee camp in Arkansas, Vietgone is actually an irreverent, topsy-turvy, wild ride of a moving and engaging love story – in this case, a story based on how the playwright’s parents actually met. But as their story is told, Qui Nguyen keeps us guessing if his 2015-premiering Vietgone is also a romantic comedy, a sex-and-expletive-packed action adventure, a rap-and-rock-infused musical, a parody about recently arrived immigrants’ views of America, a tale of stark realism, or one closer to fantasy. The answer is yes to all.
City Lights Theater Company has assembled an absolutely sizzling, crackerjack cast of five under the incredibly imaginative and insightful direction of the much-talented, wildly popular director (and playwright) Jeffrey Lo to stage a not-to-be-missed Vietgone. From the opening greetings to the audience of “What’s up, bitches? … Yo, there’s a whole lot of white people up there” to the final moments when holding back tears is almost impossible for cast or audience, City Lights’ Vietgone is a non-stop series of scenes that elicit much laughter, many memories (especially for those of us in the Baby Boomer generation), and much re-thinking and re-evaluation about a war that most in the audience probably entered the evening with low regard and a desire to forget.
For the rest of my review of this “must-see” production, please proceed to Talkin’ Broadway.
Rating: 5 E, MUST-SEE
Vietgone continues through April 24, 2022 in production by City Lights Theater Company, 529 S. 2nd Street, San Jose, California. Tickets are available online at https://cltc.org/ . Patrons must show proof of full vaccination and must wear masks at all times inside the theater.
Photo Credit: Christian Pizzirani