B419 Ketchup #9: diaCRITICS Review Of Vietgone

Sunday, December 30, 2018

I went to Denver in late August for Vietgone, a play by Qui Nguyen, at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, invited by my niece Valérie Thérèse Bart, the show’s costume designer and only Vietnamese in the production team. I went with Valérie’s mother, my sister Marie. What I gained from the experience was more than I had expected I would.

To ensure that her mother and aunt could follow the play’s storyline, Valerie made us watch the show twice: one preview (dress rehearsal) and again on opening night. She was concerned the story’s fast pace might confuse us, and also wanted us to get answers to any questions we might have beforehand.

Vietgone had its world premiere in late 2015 at the South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, Calif., and has since been produced by various groups around the country, receiving much praise. The Denver-based Vietgone production touched me deeply, despite the unfamiliar-to-my-ears rap music (with several words escaping my slowly aging hearing), and the equally unfamiliar profanity (to an elderly Vietnamese of moderate background) peppered throughout the play’s dialogue.