Tag Archives: Kwong Loke

The Apology

The Apology


Arcola Theatre

THE APOLOGY at the Arcola Theatre


The Apology

“an interesting perspective on an otherwise seemingly black and white story”


The Apology, directed by Ria Parry, follows the lives of three women, each involved in the attempt to uncover the truth about ‘comfort girls’ during World War Two. An estimated 200,000 girls were taken, by deception or force, from their villages in Japanese-occupied countries, and imprisoned as sex slaves throughout the war, sanctioned by the Japanese government. This isn’t a part of history I’m especially familiar with, so the story itself was fascinating and horrifying.

The pace is a bit sloppy, and I’d say it could do with a twenty-minute haircut, but given it’s based on very true events I can see how it would feel harsh not to give all the characters enough time to flesh out their stories.

As well as the historical narratives, both during the war and in the nineties when the UN began its investigations, writer Kyo Choi also includes a personal narrative about a man (Kwong Loke) who was, to his understanding, forced to recruit ‘comfort girls’, and how he continued to live with himself after the war. It’s an interesting perspective on an otherwise seemingly black and white story: this man was neither evil nor good, and it’s an important reminder that history is rarely so clean-cut.

Performances are strong across the board, and Choi has done well to include a little levity in a fairly bleak story, giving a generous emotional range to all the characters. Priyanka Silva, the UN lawyer, played by Sharan Phull, is cringingly earnest at times, but that rings fairly true for her character, and even she cracks a joke once in a while.

The only real issue I had with the performances- and I’m ready to be told I’m wrong about this- is the accents: the three modern-day Korean characters all speak with Korean accents, whereas the young girl playing the younger self of a former ‘comfort girl’, speaks in received pronunciation. It’s fine to cast accent-blind, but given that that’s not the case for any other characters, I find it quite jarring and distracting.

TK Hay’s set design is simple and elegant: Floor and walls are covered in orderly paperwork, seemingly signifying the beaurocracy and white tape involved in any official decisions or changes. But it also evokes a paper trail: evidence, waiting to be found.

Ultimately, it’s a compelling and important story, and although a little baggy, the content of The Apology carries it through when the execution itself feels a little too sentimental, or a little drawn out.


Reviewed on 27th September 2022

by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Ikin Yum



Previously reviewed at this venue:


The Game Of Love And Chance | ★★★★ | July 2021
The Narcissist | ★★★ | July 2021
Rainer | ★★★★★ | October 2021
L’Incoronazione Di Poppea | ★★★★ | July 2022



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Summer Rolls

Park Theatre

Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 24th June 2019



“a seminal play about family, racism and history, brought to life by vivid and genuine performances across the cast”


Summer Rolls is the first British-Vietnamese play to be staged in the UK, and Park Theatre is its home. Written by Tuyen Do, the play explores racism, the impact of war, culture and community, through the lens of a single family across several decades. Mai’s parents and older brother escaped war-torn Vietnam at a time when Mai was too young to remember. Brought up in the UK, Mai resists the traditional values of her parents that tell her how should behave, what she should become and who she should marry. But she documents the shadows of her family’s scars and secrets – her father sleepwalking at night for example – through her camera, learning her history in stills. Performed across the Vietnamese and English languages, this is a play about the collision of two cultures.

The set by Moi Tran presents a traditional Vietnamese home, a kitchen station with chopsticks and fish sauce, two sewing machines, a radio that brings the politics of the outside world in. Mai and her black boyfriend seem to exist in contrast to this space, a reminder of the London culture that the family are living within.

The staging sometimes lets down the play, closing off the conversations to most of the audience. From a writing perspective, there is sometimes a clumsiness around delivery of the various revelations that shape the play, too sudden or conversely predictable. As a whole, the story has a fragmented feel to it, and the scenes do not move well between each other, lacking fluency at points. However the strength of individual scenes, and the characters and relationship created within them, still make this a very enjoyable evening.

Mai’s mother is sharp, funny and dedicated to her children. She is played in a standout performance by Linh-Dan Pham. Anna Nguyen and Keon Martial-Phillip are also particularly strong as the young couple, exploring London adolescence, sex and alcohol and art. The relationships between the characters feel consistently genuine, complex and tender.

This is a seminal play about family, racism and history, brought to life by vivid and genuine performances across the cast.


Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by Danté Kim


Summer Rolls

Park Theatre until 13th July


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Rosenbaum’s Rescue | ★★★★★ | January 2019
The Dame | ★★★★ | January 2019
Gently Down The Stream | ★★★★★ | February 2019
My Dad’s Gap Year | ★★½ | February 2019
Cry Havoc | ★★ | March 2019
The Life I Lead | ★★★ | March 2019
We’re Staying Right Here | ★★★★ | March 2019
Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough | ★★½ | April 2019
Intra Muros | | April 2019
Napoli, Brooklyn | ★★★★ | June 2019


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