Brisbane review - Vietgone: masterful in its execution
By Nahima Abraham
Written by Qui Nguyen
Directed by Daniel Evans and Ngoc Phan
Presented by Queensland Theatre
Season Ends November 18
Run time: approximately 150 mins with interval
We didn’t know what to expect when we sat down to attend Vietgone. Would it be the kind of play that is heartbreaking, aching, and full of grief? Or would it be cheeky, high-octane, and fun?
How about all of the above?
This play was masterful in its execution: a brilliant soundtrack with its hip-hop beats and fast-paced dance, stellar acting with charisma tearing up the stage and a set that was automated, and moved to its own rhythm.
Vietgone’s opening night was raunchy, radiant, and reckless. It bled from the heart and demonstrated just what Vietnam has got going on. There was laughter non-stop at the funny parts, and pensive silence at the sad. Vietgone told a story that was not unlike others, yet was suffused with originality and a real and raw quality.
The acting, afore mentioned as charismatic definitely shone bright through everyone. Every single actor in the merry band of six had something special about them. Aljin Abella, as Nhan/Khue, Patick Jhanur as a host of “American” characters, Hieu Luong, Playwright, Kristie Nguy, Tong, Ngoc Phan as Thu and others, and Will Tran as Quang. All of them should be named as stars of the night, their characters all, at some point, release belly laughs and screams of delight as the night wore on.
There were elements of fantasy, elements so fantastical and touching that the audience didn’t know what to expect next. There was love, sex, heart-wrenching and gut-wrenching sadness, followed by gentle triumph that had the audience cheering and standing for ovation at the end of the night. Vietgone is a play for the ages. It would be as relevant 48 years from now as it was today, and even 48 years in the past, where it all ended and began anew.
Vietgone was everything we wanted and more. Something so special doesn’t come every season, yet Queensland Theatre has done it once again. This year, 2023, has been full of the heart-warming, the triumphant, and the moving. Queensland Theatre will hopefully have some big-hearted things on their way next year, so hold onto your hats, and wait, it will be worth it.