Created by Helen Thai
Performed by Franco Pang and Helen Thai
Directed by Kristina Watt
Siblings, growing up in a family that didn’t talk a lot about the past, come to understand that Ma and Ba fled the war in Vietnam and the Cambodian genocide. As difficult as it is for the parents to speak about their experiences, it is even more difficult for the children to navigate the silences, and expectations, that hang over a family that once faced annihilation. Ghosts haunt the present, and even Ma’s reliable Eagle Balm curative can’t banish fearful memories. The language is poetic, effectively reflecting the difficulty of communication between generations with vastly different experiences. One is sympathetic to a husband and wife who sacrificed everything to escape their tormented homeland now raising their children in a country that has turned these same offspring, to some degree, into strangers. While the emotionally even delivery helps us absorb a narrative that covers a lot of historical territory, a little more exposure of the past would be helpful. During a day on the beach the sister suddenly panics while playfully burying her brother in sand as she realizes that this innocent act mimics a too common ritual of war. More such jarring juxtapositions between past and present would help us enter a story that is still keeping its ghosts hidden. I look forward to seeing more of this compelling play.