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Wild Goose Dreams Fly Wildly All Over

Wild Goose Dreams Fly Wildly All Over

Surrounding by a Korean collage of neon letters and illuminated light box poster art, an older gentleman, played by the compelling and engaging Francis Jue (Public’s Hamlet) tells us a fairy tale filled with wonderment and sneaky sneaky sneaky joy. It starts with “once upon a time, there was an angel“, and the rest flies forward into a strongly envisioned metaphor of connection and escapist freedom.  The story asks whether, if given wings, would someone angelic choose  family over the idea of flight and freedom. Taking into account that Hansol Jung’s compelling new play, Wild Goose Dreams takes place near the border that separates North and South Korea, survivor guilt, shame, and a deep sense of compassion aren’t too far away from that chilly river where the naked angel stands quietly looking for rescue or a return.

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Michelle Krusiec and Francis Jue. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

The beginning, as directed with theatrical inventiveness by Leigh Silverman (Vineyard/Minetta Lane’s Harry Clarke), the disconnection and the burdens of stress created by separated families, even if by financial choice, gets played out to perfection amongst a background sing-song of “10011001001“. Formulated and coded on the dynamic stage, designed impressively by Clint Ramos (Broadway’s Once on This Island) of The Public Theater, a chorus of computer generated responses and directives emulate outwards giving voice to the crowded complications of online communication and screen activity. It’s pretty genius, thanks to sound designer Palmer Hefferan (MCC’s Charm), composer Paul Castles (NOVA’s Little Deaths), and movement director Yasmine Lee (Broadway’s Harry Potter…, Curious Incident…), that the structure of disconnection plays out in such an addictive cacophony of surfing, loading and deleting. That first scene sets up an idea with stylized ease, although it starts to wear itself out as it goes on and on, trying our patience with an already felt experience. I was anxious to log off, if this jabber kept up for much longer. It’s hard enough dealing with this technology and disconnected pretend engagement in our day-to-day, let alone it taking over the theatre, my escape from all that is stupid about our smart iPhone world.

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Lulu Fall, Michelle Krusiec, Francis Jue, Peter Kim, and Joél Pérez. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

But finally, thank God, Love’s Genie makes it way onstage and moves this piece forward. Accepted and loaded in the humanized form by the impressive Lulu Fall (ATC’s This Ain’t No Disco) and Joél Pérez (Public’s Oedipus El Rey), the two are the female and male directives within a dating application, trying to bring the lost and lonely souls together.  Yoo Nanhee, played solidly, although slightly coolly by Michelle Krushiec (Signature’s Kung Fu), a North Korean defector, is in need of some interactive experience, rather than just existing to buy coffee and juice for her boss. And on the other side, desperate but insanely optimistic, there is a married South Korean man, Guk Minsung, played with a layered complexity and childlike adorableness by Peter Kim (Damon Cardasis’ film “Saturday Church“), whose life as a ‘goose father‘ is as sad of an existence as one can imagine behind a smiling face. A ‘Goose Father‘ is a South Korean man who “nobly stays home while his wife and daughter seek a better life in America. He sends every penny he earns to the USA so his daughter can acquire an English-speaking education“. In return, unfortunately, Minsung finds himself deeply lonely, sad, and in dire need. But somewhere deep inside that loneliness, he is brought, courtesy of Love’s Genie into the orbit of Nanhee, the young defector. And the rest should be the start of a romantic musical, but the playwright has a different plan in store, one that, unfortunately meanders around all sorts of penguin dreams of lost wings, sometimes finding the humanity, but more often than not, like the dating apps themselves, gets lost in the transition.

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Peter Kim and Michelle Krusiec. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

Playwright Jung (Cardboard Piano), while doing an excellent job in the quiet moments of the struggle to find meaning in the modern-day connection, loses herself in Wild Goose Dreams‘ overly conscious cleverness. Only in Minsung’s desperate pleas for salvation do we find truth and playful authenticity.  Nanhee tries to discover the meaning behind her visitations but her emotionality doesn’t fluctuate to the same degree as the circumstances surround her situation and the trials she must go through to find understanding in the penguin’s hysteria. The costumes by Linda Cho (Encores’ Grand Hotel) lighting Keith Parham (2ST’s Man from Nebraska), alongside the cultural dynamics courtesy of Korean music composer Jongbin Jung, with an assist from music supervisor Charity Wicks (Broadway’s Come From Away), do a fantastic job creating context and subversive understanding, but for the stakes being so high, Krusiec’s Nanhee seems as inspired as we are to be fully engaged emotionally in the production.  It’s a grand spectacle and some YouTube fun, even when drenched with sadness and loneliness, that create an enjoyable dive into the modern world of emotional engagement and disconnection, but the overall effect leaves you as satisfied as a fine internet date that you know, in the long-term, will be forgotten quickly.

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Peter Kim (center) and the company of Wild Goose Dreams, written by Hansol Jung and directed by Leigh Silverman, running at The Public Theater. Photo credit: Joan Marcus.

For more, go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Off Broadway
@#frontmezzjunkies

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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