NEW YORK—Both surreal and sometimes cartoon-like, Hansol Jung’s new play, co-produced by New York’s Public Theater and La Jolla Playhouse, deals with the romantic misadventures of a married South Korean man and a woman who had defected from North Korea.
The internet plays a large part in the play and almost seems like another character, bringing the play’s events unmistakably into this century.
The man, Minsung (Peter Kim), is one of those “goose fathers” who has sent his wife (Jaygee Macapugay) and daughter (Kendyl Ito) to America, presumably to find a better life than he can presently offer them.
Minsung supports his family financially, but as time goes by, he becomes increasingly lonely and turns to the internet in the form of a dating service. Here he meets Nanhee (Michelle Krusiec), who defected from North Korea years earlier. She, on her part, is plagued by memories of her father (Francis Jue) whom she left behind.
The father plays an important part in the play, communicating with his daughter from time to time and helping to move the play along.
Minsung and Nanhee are initially shy with one another, but ultimately their mutual loneliness draws them into a physical relationship. As so often happens in offhand relationships, the couple’s feelings continually draw them back into thinking of their earlier, more deeply forged relationships.
Minsung constantly checks his emails for news of his real family, and Nanhee shows signs of missing her father, when she fails to see him in her imagination as often as before. The poignant tale ends sadly, as one might expect.
“Wild Goose Dreams” might have been a happier theatrical event had the playwright chosen to keep things simpler. Instead, she inserts such touches as a pseudo-Greek chorus commenting on the events, and even a penguin sticking its head out of a toilet—the latter only confounds.
On the plus side, performances are good, particularly in the case of Francis Jue, who, in a relatively small role, commands attention. All is under the firm directorial hand of Leigh Silverman, complemented by the vibrant sets by Clint Ramos.
‘Wild Goose Dreams’
The Public Theater
425 Lafayette St.
Tickets: 212-967-7555 or PublicTheater.org
Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes (no intermission)
Closes: Dec. 16
Diana Barth writes for various arts publications, including New Millennium. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org