How about a Vietnam-war-related story that is less about war and more about love? That’s what you get in VIETGONE, the play currently presented by East West Players at the David Henry Hwang Theater in Little Tokyo.
VIETGONE tells the tale of two refugees from Vietnam who fall in love in a relocation camp in Arkansas in the 1970s. You can expect to see “flower children” and bell bottoms, as well as to hear a soundtrack of hip-hop and rap that it’s fun and that your brain will immediately (and probably unfairly) compare to Hamilton.
Paul Yen plays Quang, the confident young man from Vietnam who would like to go back home (although he really can’t) and ends up falling in love with Tong, played nicely by Sylvia Kwan. The cast is complete with Jane Lui, Scott Ly, and Albert Park, who play multiple characters successfully. I particularly enjoyed Lui’s performance as Tong’s mother, Huong, and as a full-of-moves Translator. The cast’s perfect English should be understood to be Vietnamese (it took me a while to get it), and the dialogue and lyrics, be advised, include plenty of cursing.
VIETGONE was written by Qui Nguyen, apparently based on his parents’ real life story. The production is directed by Jennifer Chang. The all Asian American cast tells a tale about immigration that sounds and feels authentic. Most interestingly, it gives an opinion about the Vietnam War that is different than the usual.
Tickets range $40 to $60, available at eastwestplayers.org or by calling (213) 625-7000.
$20 rush tickets can be purchased daily on the TodayTix app. Download the app, and then at 9 am on every performance day (excluding 11/1), a limited number of tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. November 1 is Pay-What-You-Can night.
The David Henry Hwang Theater is located at the Union Center of the Arts at 120 Judge John Aiso Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. VIETGONE continues through Nov. 18, 2018.