Posted in 2-hander, air force, also a film, army airmen, autobiographical, based on a movie, based on a real world conflict, based on a true story or event and historical documents, based on true events, Bryce Pinkham, carpet bombing, comedy about a serious subject, dark comedy drama, drama based on real events, duped by love, ensemble acting, family, fathers and sons, holiday show, memoir, memories, musical theatre, musicals and dramas, narration, new work, Off or Off-Off Broadway Transfer, offbeat work, parents and children, play, play with music, Roundabout Theatre Company, serious comedy, storytelling, stylistic, the damaged and hurting, theater, Vietnam background, war

Legacies of war

Jon Hoche, Raymond Lee, Paco Tolson (center), Jennifer Ikeda, and Samantha Quan. Photo © Carol Rosegg

History can sometimes revel in a very personal dynamic.

For instance, those of us who lived through and joined in protests against the Vietnam War may not share the viewpoint of the main character in Qui Nguyen’s Vietgone, currently playing at MTC’s City Center Stage I through December 4th.

Quang (Raymond Lee) was a pilot in the South Vietnamese armed forces. He was trained in the United States. He saw the North Vietnamese as a genuine threat to life and liberty and welcomed the help of American soldiers in the struggle.

Vietgone is a fast-paced kind-of-multi-media excursion into the hero’s and heroine’s, Tong (Jennifer Ikeda), survival. They meet at a state-side refugee camp where Tong and her mother (Samantha Quan, in a number of roles) have come after the fall of Saigon.

The piece is, and isn’t, narrated by the Playwright (Paco Tolson, also playing several people), who is commemorating his parents’ story. There are rapped love songs, (original music by Shane Rettig) motorcycles, a roadtrip, and a bromance– all trappings to some extent of the era portrayed in the plot.

For the most part, Vietgone is entertaining, interesting, unusual in structure, and well presented. There is room for some cuts here and there. The cast, under May Adrales’ direction, and staging, with scenic designs by Tim Mackabee and projection design by Jared Mezzocchi, are excellent.

In other subscription house news from our household:

Roundabout’s Love, Love, Love (reviewed earlier and playing through 12/18) can make us feel guilty first for Brexit and now Trump as it portrays boomers resting in reactionary comfort.

Over at Studio 54 througfh January 15, 2017, Roundabout has mounted a vehicle for nostalgia. Holiday Inn, with no irony whatsoever, cries out for Mickey and Judy. It is well-served by the cast on hand, however, and a pleasantly tuneful production makes for a great afternoon at the movies, er theater.Bryce Pinkham and Corbin Bleu are the friends and dancing partners, along with Megan Sikora, and Lora Lee Gayer who lead the ensemble in song and dance.

Heisenberg Georgie- Mary-Louise Parker and Alex-- Denis Arndt; Set Designer Mark Wendland; Costume Designer Michael Krass; Lighting Designer Austin R. Smith; Original Music and Sound Designer David Van Tieghem. Photo © Joan Marcus
Georgie- Mary-Louise Parker and Alex– Denis Arndt;
Set Designer Mark Wendland; Costume Designer Michael Krass;
Lighting Designer Austin R. Smith;
Original Music and Sound Designer David Van Tieghem. Photo © Joan Marcus

MTC gives us Heisenberg at its Broadway venue, the Friedman Theatre through December 11th. Why Heisenberg? The play, so well-acted by Denis Arndt and Mary-Louise Parker as to have one puzzling over the quantum physics of it name, is an enjoyable two-hander. It’s gimmicky staging notwithstanding, the dynamic of the drama is captivating. Heisenberg is a sweet-crazy story, written by Simon Stephens, the pen behind The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Heisenberg was a transfer from Off-Off, and as such had some buzziness surrounding it.Director Mark Brokaw elicits strong performances from both his actors. Parker, who unleashes the odd-ball in her character in little bursts, is fun to watch.Arndt’s charm reveals how a pent-up man can suddenly be both impetuous and child-like. So, back to the title: Heisenberg has an underlying if small principle of uncertainty that you will likely enjoy.

Posted in friendship, Jon Fosse, Karen Allen, loss, love, melancholy, Norwegian playwright, rough waters, stylistic, tone-poem

Anxiety Looms On "A Summer Day"

Karen Allen, surrounded by memories, in “A Summer Day” at the Cherry Lane. Photo © Sandra Coudert

Angst, Scandanavian-style, made popular by Ingmar Bergman in our youth, and gently mocked by Woody Allen, is back in Jon Fosse’s “A Summer Day.”

“A Summer Day,” at the Cherry Lane Theatre, through November 25th, is getting its first-time premiere  in New York City in this affectionate production by  Rattlestick Playwrights Theater. 

“A Summer Day,”  takes anxiety and sadness to the brink. By an informal count, the words “anxious” and “sad” were celebrated more than a dozen times in the text of Jon Fosse’s play in director Sarah Cameron Sunde’s translation. 

Melancholia,  bolstered by boredom, looks to be a Norwegian pasttime, seconded only by going out onto rough waters.

Samantha Soule with McCaleb Burnett in “A Summer Day.” Photo © Sandra Coudert. 
Asle (McCaleb Burnett) likes it out there in his little boat. His wife (Karen Allen as Older Woman, and Samantha Soule as Younger Woman) finds it scary. As the play opens, the Older Woman stands at the window looking out at the pier. Her Older Friend (Pamela Shaw), visiting on this bright summer day, much as she had  on a much gloomier day years ago (Younger Friend, played by Maren Bush) when Asle went off to the water’s edge. Never to return.

Abandoned in her lovely house, the Older Woman lives a desolate life reminiscing about that day and watching the bay.

Much of the tension in “A Summer Day” comes from waiting for the other shoe to drop. It never doesAs Karen Allen’s character narrates the story, we bait our breath for something unexpected to happen.

A long, somewhat tedious, yet oddly engrossing tone-poem of mourning and loss, “A Summer Day” is lovingly executed. 

For more information about “A Summer Day,” and a schedule of performance, please visit