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  Vietgone at Writers Theatre


Writers Theatre
325 Tudor Court Glencoe

It's 1975 and two young survivors (who may or may not be the playwright's parents) meet in a Vietnamese refugee camp in mid-America shortly after the fall of Saigon. Will this strange new land of cowboys, hippies and bikers allow them to fall in love? Playwright Qui Nguyen's wildly creative, irreverent style flips stereotypes on their head, remixing history and culture into a sexy, funny and energetic fantasia as he imagines how two soul mates might have found each other in a turbulent time.

Thru - Sep 29, 2018

Price: $35-$80

Show Type: Comedy/Drama

Box Office: 847-242-6000

Running Time: 2hrs, 25mins

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  Vietgone Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Recommended

"..."Vietgone" is no simple condemnation of the muddled war in Vietnam, even though it mercifully lampoons American motivations. Quang hates the Viet Cong, and the play implies - to some degree - that the anti-Vietnam protesters of the 1970s were guilty of the ignorance of privilege. That's one of the most interesting themes of a progressive piece that looks at the war in Vietnam not from the ubiquitous point of view of the American G.I. (as in "Platoon" or "Born on the Fourth of July" or even "Miss Saigon") but from the perspective of those whom the Americans ostensibly were helping. As Nguyen recounts it, the Vietnamese come to see the dream-rhetoric of the self-described savior nation as a mixed bag. In Tong's mind, its racist ambivalence still is better than the devastating reality of home; Quang just wants to return to those he loves."
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Chris Jones

Chicago Sun Times - Recommended

"...The Americanese is a clever device that Nguyen uses - but smartly doesn't overuse - to subvert a Western, American, majority-white theater audience's ingrained expectation that the default is what looks and sounds like them. Countering stereotype, the immigrants are centered as our relatable protagonists, and the Americans are the pidgin-speaking Other."
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Kris Vire

Daily Herald - Recommended

"...Jadhwani's production has appeal. Her cast is able and the actors nail Nguyen's jokes. But the show feels emotionally detached on occasion, which is puzzling considering what's at stake."
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Barbara Vitello

Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Three points of interest should make for a decent evening at the theater, but Nguyen slathers them with idiomatic cuteness ("Yo, what's up, white people?") that's ostensibly meant to distance his immigrant forebears from Asian stereotyping ("Prease to meeting you! I so Asian!") but ends up overwhelming the characters as much as the cliches. Despite the many compassionate notes in Lavina Jadhwani's staging and an especially warm performance by Emjoy Gavino as Tong's mom, the show feels like it'd much rather be seen as an elbow-nudging display of theatrical wit and resourcefulness than an exploration of strength and pain."
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Tony Adler

Windy City Times - Highly Recommended

"...Director Lavina Jadhwani and playwright Qui Nguyen are a formidable team. The sum of their efforts—Writers Theatre's production of Nguyen's Vietgone—is a wildly entertaining, genre-busting epic. The saga of an unlikely road trip and an unlikely courtship, it's also a war story that breaks with trope and stereotype. May that breakage never be repaired."
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Catey Sullivan

Time Out Chicago - Recommended

"...The play’s endgame is never in doubt—after all, Qui Nguyen exists—but the journey is a hoot, thanks to Nguyen’s calling card: inventiveness suffused with pop culture. He brings a comic-book aesthetic to his parents’ story, complete with a ninja fight and an 80’s rom-com montage. In a clever device, he has the Vietnamese characters speak perfect English while the American characters speak in a bizarre (and very funny) gibberish: the Vietnamese are the empathetic protagonists, and the Americans are the alien ones."
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Alex Huntsberger

Splash Magazine - Recommended

"...The play is a tragic comedy; underneath the bedroom farce aspects lurks the real horror of this infamous war, the awful reality of refugee camps and the enforced breakup of families, all leavened by the life-affirming power of the procreative instinct, sometimes known as romantic love. Part of the fun is the language and diction, part Hmong, part hip-speak. When the action is taken 40 years ahead to 2011 , the accents actually are altered to account for the natural learning curve- and the dated clichés disappear- a brilliant stroke of writing and direction; kudos to dialect coach Vahishta Vadafari."
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Debra Davy

Let's Play at ChicagoNow - Highly Recommended

"...All of the actors in Vietgone do a remarkable job and make this play believable and worth a trip to Writers Theatre. The chemistry between Aurora and Quang was brilliant, and Emjoy Gavino as the mother almost stole the show with her performance. Please pay special attention to the messages delicately inserted into the play. They are a refreshing reminder that we need to come together regardless of our differences."
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Rick and Brenda McCain

Around The Town Chicago - Recommended

"...Viet Nam, was a time of fear and turbulence. These two young people, through no fault of their own, were brought together, away from where they wanted to be and the people they loved. Nguyen has taken this situation, one of great negativity, and brought some order to positivity to it! And some great understanding!"
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Alan Bresloff

NewCity Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...Under Lavina Jadhwani's direction, the production at Writers Theatre zings with spirit and heart. Yee delivers his lines with a rasp that ranges from fury to longing. Adachi-Winter's eyes say it all. Minh, Chan, and Gavino conjure up the rest of their universe with expert chameleonic shifts on a set designed by Yu Shibagaki."
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Irene Hsiao

WTTW - Somewhat Recommended

"...As someone who prayed for the Vietnam War to end before my brother was drafted, and who much later got to know several “boat people” in Chicago who had endured great hardship but turned their lives around, I found the many oversimplifications and anachronisms in “Vietgone” trivializing on some level – at least until that final reckoning between father and son."
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Hedy Weiss

Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...Besides being enlightening and educational, this wonderful play offers an evening of entertainment for adult audiences. They'll also encounter five terrific, versatile Chicago actors at the top of their game. Qui Nguyen does a nice job of masking an essentially serious play, a personal story, within a comedy. He unmasks the whitewashing of American history through the eyes of his own family, and makes us care deeply about these characters. Nguyen showcases their bravery and resilience during so much tragedy and loss. In doing so, Nguyen sneaks in enough warmth and humor to make his story funny, touching and memorable."
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Colin Douglas

Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...At its eloquent best, "Vietgone" is absorbing, intelligent, and challenging. Nguyen's play" is not only a striking artistic and entertainment experience, but for the thoughtful Writers Theatre spectator, an education."
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Dan Zeff

The Fourth Walsh - Somewhat Recommended

"...And again and again I found my mind drifting to how we treat refugees in this country and how it has scarcely changed if not gotten worse. That I was thinking more about our current political climate than I was interested in the story’s journey is perhaps more damning than I intend. This production is solid, but it left me wanting so much more."
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Jay Worthington

Chicagoland Musical Theatre - Somewhat Recommended

"...Theatre patrons looking to their art of choice for enlightenment about messy issues in a world of ever-escalating complexity have a new staging of Playwright Qui Nguyen‘s Vietgone to offer just that."
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Barry Reszel

Chicago Theater and Arts - Recommended

"...Insightfully directed by Lavin Jadhwani with significant projections by Rasean Davonte Johnson, the production will likely get audiences thinking about their own family’s stories."
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Jodie Jacobs

Chicago On Stage - Highly Recommended

"...Vietgone, appearing at Writers Theatre in Glencoe at the same time as Crazy Rich Asians is topping box office charts in movie theatres, is a sign of a new era of more inclusive entertainment that allows Asians to tell Asian stories. And this play does more than that: it takes back a story that most Americans think they know, telling the tale of the end of the Vietnam War from the perspective of the Vietnamese who immigrated to America in its aftermath. However, Vietgone is not a war story; it is the tale of two people who meet by chance and, despite the odds, end up together. In other words, it's a love story."
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Karen Topham

PicksInSix - Highly Recommended

"...Understanding the interaction of all cultures and languages is at the heart of this work, embodied in the central Asian American characters and the inspired, table-turning device that results in English being the "othered" language. There are fine performances throughout and several storylines to explore, which explains why Nguyen is already well in development on two sequels based on his family's immigrant experience."
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Ed Tracy

Rescripted - Highly Recommended

"...I have long held that the most powerful art is that which is deeply personal. Vietgone by Qui Nguyen, in its current production at Writer's Theatre, is one such piece. The latest in a long line of lovely work from local director Lavina Jadwani, Vietgone is a romp of a love story, but its real power lies not solely in the budding relationship between the two leads-but in the writer's journey of understanding his own parents."
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Emma Couling

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