The Yeomen of the Guard is not among the most vis­ited of Gil­bert and Sul­li­van’s far­ci­cal op­erettas, but it is as nutty as any of them.

Pasatiempo - - LISTEN UP - Vi­et­gone

Two plays of a more se­ri­ous na­ture also jumped to the A-list. Well, by the Viet­name­seAmer­i­can play­wright Qui Nguyen, is de­scribed as a com­edy, and it is that. But many of the finest come­dies are joined to tragedy at the hip. “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a com­edy in long shot,” Charles Chap­lin once ob­served, pre­sum­ably. The tragic back­ground to this play is the world of Viet­namese refugees in the 1970s, the plight of peo­ple sun­dered from their fam­i­lies back home in a coun­try that no longer ex­ists as it was, up­rooted for­eign­ers try­ing to find new foot­ing in a re­set­tle­ment camp in Fort Chaf­fee, Arkansas. In Qui Nguyen’s play, the fo­cus is on the young — two guys and a girl among the refugees, plus an Amer­i­can sol­dier, all with hor­mones flow­ing at full tilt. They’re ready and ea­ger for mod­ern life in the US of A, un­like the girl’s mother, whose stub­born re­fusal to ac­knowl­edge her changed cir­cum­stances gives rise to con­sid­er­able hi­lar­ity. The cast seems large, but in fact the 18 char­ac­ters are played by only six ac­tors, their spot-on por­tray­als so di­verse as to qual­ify as mar­velous. At the heart of the ac­tion is the randy mag­netism be­tween refugees Quang (James Ryen) and Tong (Jeena Yi), but direc­tor May Adrales has molded the whole group into an en­sem­ble of un­usual vi­brancy. It is a pe­riod piece, set al­most en­tirely in about 1975, but it draws on a rich ar­ray of pop­u­lar cul­ture, in­clud­ing more re­cent styles. Pop dit­ties from the ’70s are there, but so is anger-laced hip-hop; and one of the most as­ton­ish­ing scenes is a fight be­tween the refugee boys

con­tin­ued on Page 22

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