Tag Archives: Tuyen Do

I Will Still Be Whole (When You Rip Me In Half)

★★★★

The Bunker

I Will Still Be Whole

I Will Still Be Whole (When You Rip Me In Half)

The Bunker

Reviewed – 14th November 2019

★★★★

 

“a gem of a play, soft and lyrical and full of promise”

 

I will still be whole (when you rip my in half) opens beautifully. The two performers begin to tell the story, together, sharing sentences, before they become its two protagonists: a mother who left her newborn child after a hellish pregnancy, and her now grown daughter, in search of her mother and in search of herself.

The script is delicately written by Ava Wong Davies, skipping between the ornateness of poetic language and the brutality of everyday experience. It dives between their stories, only to bring them together in the final scene for the reunion of mother and daughter, a reunion that one has looked for and one hasn’t.

The two performers balance each other so well under Helen Morley’s direction. Tuyen Do as Joy has a lovely softness to her, which compliments the harshness of the decision she has to make to hold herself together. Contrastingly, we get to meet EJ (Aoife Hinds) on a night out, alone apart from the girl she is kissing, then alone again apart from a fox in the road, then alone again apart from the firefighters and residents gathered around a house going up in flames. A surreal, neurotic journey that echoes her emotional state.

There are points where the pace suffers, the energy dulls, points that don’t demand our engagement and attention. But its tenderness is also part of its charm when the balance is right.

The set, designed by Grace Venning, unites the two characters visually – even before they meet – through a tree branch both of them see from the window of the bedroom they have consecutively lived in.

This is a gem of a play, soft and lyrical and full of promise.

 

Reviewed by Amelia Brown

Photography by  Fran Cattaneo

 


I Will Still Be Whole (When You Rip Me In Half)

The Bunker until 23rd November

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
Box Clever | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Killymuck | ★★★★ | March 2019
My White Best Friend | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Funeral Flowers | ★★★½ | April 2019
Fuck You Pay Me | ★★★★ | May 2019
The Flies | ★★★ | June 2019
Have I Told You I’m Writing a Play About my Vagina? | ★★★★ | July 2019
Jade City | ★★★ | September 2019
Germ Free Adolescent | ★★★★ | October 2019
We Anchor In Hope | ★★★★ | October 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Summer Rolls
★★★½

Park Theatre

Summer Rolls

Summer Rolls

Park Theatre

Reviewed – 24th June 2019

★★★½

 

“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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