A young woman (Chinh) arrives in the homeland of her father. Vietnam represents a part of her identity she has rejected for most of her life, wishing to be seen as an American (like her Caucasian mother) and not Vietnamese. A spontaneous moonlight ride on a motorbike ends in a crash, and old memories surface. The play alternates between her present day search for identity in Vietnam, working in an orphanage, and flashbacks to her attempts to confront her personal history of child abuse by cousins who came as refugees to live with her family in America. Each experience strengthens her resolve to say the truth and in the process, reclaim what was lost.
It’s a complex story with a subject matter that’s not easy to tackle. Beautifully directed by Elizabeth Browning, a studio setting with minimal props of three chairs uses good lighting techniques to depict the elements of darkness within the script.
Chinh’s dialogue and lyrical storytelling sees our protagonist confronting her demons by speaking the truth, leading in some part to a healing of her wounds.
The subject matter may not seem like an immediate Fringe hit but Reclaiming Vietnam is told with honesty and serenity, without a hint of anger. If one person’s story, told through theatre, can lead others on a personal journey to speak out on a subject that until now has been hidden, then it can only be a good thing.