Among the Dead is a war-meets modern-day story that begins in 1944 as American soldier Luke abandons Number Four, a Korean refugee woman holding his baby as he is evacuated after fighting in Myanmar. Her threat to stab the baby (Ana), rather than take it with her on her forced, unknown journey leaves him no choice, but to take the child with him, promising to return to a designated spot a year later to reconnect. He never returns. Thus begins the unraveling of Hansol Jung‘s new magnificent play as Number Four waits for Luke’s return and fatefully searches for her missing sister. Look for more from this rising playwright.
Years later Ana (now a woman) comes to a hotel room on her birthday to receive the ashes of her father. A magic hotel bellboy (who doubles as Jesus) delivers her father’s old journal along with some special hash. A few magic puffs and down the rabbit hole Ana goes to explore her father and mother’s true relationship before the fated night he left her. This script is skillfully brought to life in the hands of amazing director Ralph B. Pena, whose staging was masterful and tight. Pena inspired his actors to reach deep within to bring this reality to life.
Brilliant comedic timing by Will Dagger (Bellyboy/Jesus) complimented Diana Oh’s soulful, standout performance as Number Four. Dashing Mickey Theis successfully carried the burden of the reality of war and of personal conflict throughout the play, as Julienne Hanzelka Kim (Ana) did her best to hang on surrounded by these three powerhouses, finally dropping in during an intense birthing scene.
The tight (mostly Yale grad-based) tech team exhibited their brilliance though expertly creative lighting and sound– making helicopters land, actors fall in slow motion and time travel believable in this modest theater. The set was incredibly designed with actors surprising the audience by crawling out from hidden spaces under and throughout the stage and a mock wall of foliage. The staid quietness of Ana’s hotel room was seamlessly shifted into the perils of war, leaving the audience at the edge of their seats.
Produced by Asian American Off-Broadway MA-YI Theater Company at Here (145 Sixth Avenue, NYC), Among the Dead, is a must-see World Premiere with a limited engagement running through November 26th, 2016.
Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:30 PM
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 4 PM
(No performance Thursday, November 24)