There are wild goose chases and wild goose stories and wild goose dreams, I suppose. I’ve been on many a wild goose chase over the course of my lifetime and I’ve heard wild stories as well, but it wasn’t until recently that I happened on a wild goose dream.
In the case of “Wild Goose Dreams” at The La Jolla Playhouse, I felt as if I was in wild goose inner sanctum of loud noises sounds and other distractions not in concert with what I had expected. I was a good soldier and rode the dream to the end but sans hearing aids. To this day I still try to avoid those discordant sounds coming from my own devices.
The La Jolla Playhouse, in conjunction with The Public Theatre is currently staging Hansol Jung’s world premiere production, “Wild Goose Dreams” through Oct. 1st
|Yunjin Kim and James Kyson|
It’s a love story bound together by high tech blips, bleeps, beeps tweets, email, cell phones, Facebook, on line dating services, a digital Greek Chorus and any other way of connecting or not, lonely people from different walks of life and possibly different cultures seeking companionship.
Playwright Jung connects two unlikely souls, both looking for something or someone, through an Internet dating service. ‘Goose father’ Minsung (James Kyson) is from South Korea and supporting his wife and daughter living in the U.S. He wants his daughter to be educated there. He’s alone and lonesome.
Nanhee (Yunjin Kim), with the help of her father (Francis Jue) defected from North Korea by swimming in dark and cold seas to reach the South. She is a survivor and now works for the government hidden away in a small cubicle.
Both are employed by their now government and both are reluctantly willing to find companionship. Nanhee’s defection five years ago still finds her alone, bewildered and naive in the art of relationships. The money from her work that she sends home is to help her father.
The play, deftly directed by Leigh Silverman, starts charmingly enough with a ‘Once upon a time’ fable as told by Nanhee’s father about heavenly angels that want to defy the Emperor and sneak down to earth. They find an earthly river… and so he recounts the story of his daughter’s escape from her birth country ending with, “If you have to choose between family and flying, I hope you would chose the flying.”)
Certainly something to ponder.
|Yunjin Kim (center) and cast of "Wild Goose Dreams"|
And then from nowhere a refrain of ear piercing sounds from a Greek chorus enters in the background singing cappella. They are sounds you might hear popping up on your own computer breaking the stillness of the ongoing struggle to connect Nanhee and Minsung
The sounds seemingly never go away. The chatter of the Internet is loud and distracting (“Breaking news.” “Global leaders.” “Win a free trip.” “Ding dong, fine dust alert.” “Delete, delete.”) and for all its noise, takes away from the overall enjoyment of the show.
The two do get together letting their relationship grow in spite of age differences and other interruptions like Nanhee’s father showing up in her dreams as a penguin and offering advice or from the pesky internet that sometimes works but oft times not and the cell phones that disconnect in mid conversation.
‘Dreams’ is clever to a degree. The acting is without question, excellent. The play is timely as any topic can be given the saber rattling going on between this government and North Korea.
The cultural differences as shown through the generational gaps brought about by the soft –spoken, tale telling and beautifully nuanced Francis Jue, Ms. Kim’s demure postures and complex personality of doing the right thing or not and Mr. Kyson’s struggle to connect with his daughter and to leaving his wife for this younger woman, ring true.
|Yunjin Kim and Francis Jue|
No question ‘Dreams’ stretches the imagination but the story is too complex and oft times incoherent. Trying to squeeze every idea Jung wants to say into a one- act play may satisfy some, but left this reviewer still in need of clarification at plays end.
Linda Cho's costumes, Wilson Chin’s sets, Keith Parham’s lighting, and the penguin head, Jasmine Lee choreography and the seven- member chorus all contribute to a finely tuned but very long and multi-layered play.
With all the noises coming out of Washington and with North Korea testing the boundaries of this countries reserve, some quiet discourse is in order. TBC.
The metaphor in “Wild Goose Dreams” reminded me of Kahlil Gibran’s “Your children are not your children” poem offering the same sage advice.
Letting our children fly is the best gift we can give them.
See you at the theatre.
Dates: Through Oct. 1st
Organization: La Jolla Playhouse
Production Type: Comedy
Where: 2910 La Jolla Village Drive, La Jolla, CA
Ticket Prices: Start at $29.00
Venue: Mandell Weiss Forum
Photo: Jim Carmody