Wow. An enjoyable, challenging, and moving show. Kim Chinh effortlessly fills the stage with warmth and personality.
Every year at the Fringe, I always try to find a few one-person shows. To me, such personal story-telling is captivating in a way that goes beyond the stagecraft, scripted repartee, or laugh-chasing comedy of bigger productions. Actors who do these shows really care about their story, and they invest the time to bring it to life in a vibrant way.
Kim invites us to join her on her journey to Vietnam, a country that has in many ways shaped her, even though she's never been there before. As the story progresses, we grow to appreciate her honesty and bravery. She confronts a history of trauma and violence that happened not only within Vietnam, but also within her own family. In fact, something happened in Texas which affected her directly. Soon the action alternates between Vietnam and Texas, as Kim confronts herself, her history, and asks questions of family members.
I'm reminded a line by Martin Stepsek, a poet who chronicled his Polish family's painful journeys during World War II. He wrote, “Stories are like caves. It’s easy to get lost in their tombs.” If stories lie hidden, they can fester. Traumatic memories can be repressed for decades, if not held unto death. Part of a person becomes buried, and their lives can be constricted by the pain and fear they carry.
But if a buried story is brought to light, so that secrets are not secrets any more, then there is a chance for honesty and an opportunity to heal. We can emerge from fear and come to life again.
Reclaiming Vietnam is that kind of story. It is definitely worth seeing.
This is both a very thoughtful and engrossing piece about a second generation American woman going back to Vietnam to understand more about her heritage and also confronting issues from her childhood in the US. Kim Chinh does a lovely job of both keeping the audience engaged and caring about her journey. Strongly recommended.
Very powerful but uplifting show by this young actress. She literally puts everything into it with a huge range of emotions. I must confess that it turned out to be not what we were expecting as we went along to what we thought would be a political show! But it was excellent and would recommend it to everyone.
Extraordinary show in the best sense of the word. Kim manages to interweave the story of reclaiming the Vietnamese side of her heritage as well as dealing fiercely with a traumatic incident in her childhood. That makes it sound very worthy and hard going, but it's not. She's a charming witty performer baring her soul in a way that is startling, frank, funny and illuminating. Goodness knows how she copes with the emotional trauma every time. Definitely worth seeing. There's too much material at The Fringe that can wash over you, this helps you to ride the wave.