Already closed | 2h 25m | Midtown W

Cambodian Rock Band

From 127 member  reviews
Members say: Absorbing, Great acting, Great singing, Ambitious, Entertaining

About the show

This darkly funny, electric new play with music tells the story of a Khmer Rouge survivor returning to Cambodia, as his daughter prepares to prosecute one of Cambodia's most infamous war criminals. More…

From the show:

Guitars tuned. Mic checked. Get ready to rock! This darkly funny, electric new play with music tells the story of a Khmer Rouge survivor returning to Cambodia for the first time in thirty years, as his daughter prepares to prosecute one of Cambodia's most infamous war criminals. Backed by a live band playing contemporary Dengue Fever hits and classic Cambodian oldies, this thrilling story toggles back and forth in time as father and daughter face the music of the past. Directed by Chay Yew, the New York premiere of this intimate rock epic about family secrets is set against a dark chapter of Cambodian history. It launches Steinberg Award-winning playwright Lauren Yee’s Residency 5.

Member Reviews (127)


Absorbing, Great acting, Great singing, Ambitious, Entertaining
Avg Score

Loud, Uneven tone, Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if you'd enjoy rock music &/or intense drama abt Khmer Rouge. Historical scenes compelling. Duch is fascinating; CRB strgest when he's on.

Don't see it if you want cohesive play (tone varies wildly). Upbeat music at end seems wrong. Some wooden dialogue/acting. Still, unusual premise; ambitious

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Great singing

See it if Really great story, performances and music. Has a little of everything, drama, history, singing. Really enjoyed it.

Don't see it if You aren't in the mood for a 2 act play. Aren't in the mood for a serious play.

Thought-provoking, Great writing, Absorbing, Great singing, Intense

See it if You like rock & roll and when it is used to help tell a story that is both deeply sensitive and emotionally disturbing. Slow build up.

Don't see it if If you want a fluffy light hearted, easy to swallow show. This takes a little work to follow and it’s a tough one to easily accept.

Also This is Miss Saigon on steroids!!

Great acting, Quirky, Overrated, Disappointing

See it if If you want to see good acting and a 70s musical about Cambodia.

Don't see it if Overrated. Music drowns out at times and story is convoluted.

Epic, Meaningful, Great music, Disturbing, Intense

See it if Powerful combo of rock music, Khmer Rouge prison survival, and American daughter seeking her roots. Creative & transporting.

Don't see it if You don't like hard rock. You want a fully realistic story. You are uninterested in historical themes. Prison torture.

Also Audience on their feet dancing at the end. Vibrant future despite geno... Read more Read less

Gritty, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting, Inventive

See it if Gritty war crimes musical. Headstrong lawyer clashes with narrator and her pa over secrets well kept. "I raised you not to care." Dual-roles

Don't see it if Class-based genocide.Tribunal meeting.Pol Pot.Western-style rock band.Unreliable narrator:"It is my story & I can tell you anything I want."

Also "They took away my name. they took away my face/There must have been s... Read more Read less

Amazing combo of ‘70s cambodian rock music & tale of murderous cambodian prison commandant

See it if acutely shows banality of evil in Khmer Rouge mass killings; fine actor-musicians; Cambodian rock/Dylan fill scenes w emotion

Don't see it if broad & jokey; contrived plot; still works as entertaining vehicle 2 bring alive chilling historical chpt

Also Imitation is highest form of flattery. This vehicle is redolent of a n... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Cliched, Slow, Resonant, Great singing

See it if You’d be fascinated by a fictional account involving the Khmer Rouge, especially one that throws in some good rock songs.

Don't see it if You feel unsatisfied when a play — with sub-par acting — is told in a wonky, mish-mash style that doesn’t come together.

Intense, Great singing, Great acting, Great staging, Ambitious

See it if you want to see a musical with meaning. It begins with the band, slowly leads to a story about the atrocities that took place in Cambodia.

Don't see it if you don't like to see violence on stage. Some scenes are disturbing.

Also This show surprised me. I didn't think there would be so much story. I... Read more Read less

Compelling second act, Disturbing, Intense, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if interested in the adversity & complexity of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime of the 70's; well acted, riveting second act; good band

Don't see it if you don't like loud music, some bright lights, slow start to the first act; 2nd act is disturbing, powerful and ultimately uplifting

Also 1st act is almost a throw away in terms of over the top direction of J... Read more Read less

Too long, Great writing, Great staging, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if you want a well acted, fascinating look at the damage we did in SE Asia. Very clever. I'd cut several of the songs.Show is too long.

Don't see it if you get annoyed by songs whose lyrics are in a foreign language so you don't know what they are about.

Intelligent, Resonant, Thrilling, Must see, Great singing

See it if you’re connected to people who fled or people who died under Communism. You want to discover some awesome, 60s/70s surfer-style rock bands.

Don't see it if dislike popular, accessible shows, other languages, or psychedelic music that makes you want to howl. Marked coincidences—like most musicals

Also Landmark production! I can’t remember the last time I saw a show from ... Read more Read less

Relevant, Great writing, Great acting, Great singing, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy a contemporary political story supported by actor/musicians that perform live music

Don't see it if loud rock music is not your cup of tea,

Also The play starts out with goofy almost caricaturish characters that see... Read more Read less

Great writing

See it if Great balance of history, personal story, getting into the complexity of morality vs survival, and joy. Felt and learned new things.

Don't see it if Genocide, gun/shots are triggering but they do a great balance of not making it super depressing. Dislike hearing how US screwed Cambodia.

Also Diversity: all Asian American cast! Truly an Asian American story of C... Read more Read less

Relevant, Thought-provoking, Great singing, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if You want to see a thought provoking and original play about the recent genocide in Cambodia, combined in a clever way with rock music.

Don't see it if You cannot watch violent scenes, you are not interested in learning about the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

Also I was fascinated and moved by the originality of this play. The actors... Read more Read less

Thought-provoking, Quirky, Intense, Intelligent, Ambitious

See it if You want to explore the residue of genocide across generations with a 70s rock concert mixed in

Don't see it if You have no interest in politics and history or hate loud music

An amazingly inventive show that takes you through a complete range of emotions

See it if You’re in search of real theater.

Don't see it if Depictions of violence on stage disturb you.

Resonant, Intelligent, Intense, Great staging, Absorbing

See it if You enjoy plays with music or political thrillers. You want to hear some really great retro music.

Don't see it if You dislike plays that rely on pretty unlikely series of events.

Also "The story is about this band, so we should hear this band play... We ... Read more Read less

Intense, Ambitious, Great singing, Great acting, Clever

See it if Family and cultural family conflicts explored against survivors of Khmer Rouge and the role of music as markers of the time and soul savior

Don't see it if It’s intense especially in the prison scenes and hard to watch but this is so well done and the ensemble is so terrific it is so worth it

Refreshing, Intense, Great writing, Great singing, Ambitious

See it if you are looking for something original, engaging and different than almost anything else you've seen

Don't see it if you aren't interested in stories from the past, stories from Asia or stories dealing with family or war.

Great acting, Brutal, Absorbing, Extraordinary, Powerful

See it if a great story and acting do it for you even if there are some uncomfortable scenes; you like loud music with an exceptional on-stage band

Don't see it if you only like traditional musicals and traditional comedies

Intense, Fun, Genre-resistant

See it if you’re open to a play with music about genocide.

Don't see it if you’re extremely resistant to the subversion of genre tropes.

Also it’s a little contrived, but ultimately it balances its tragic/comic t... Read more Read less

Resonant, Intense, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if you enjoy ambitious swings that become more than the sum of their parts

Don't see it if you can't deal with ambiguous tonal shifts and metatheatrical flourishes

Absorbing, Riveting, Resonant, Great singing, Great acting

See it if Superb performers..acting singing, dancing and playing. A compelling story, some difficult scenes to watch but worth it.

Don't see it if You can’t watch violence and covering your eyes is not enough.

Great singing, Great acting, Entertaining, Clever, Absorbing

See it if You want a show that delivers both entertainment and emotional impact.

Don't see it if You don’t like shows with political themes, or that juxtapose humor with horrific acts.

February 24th, 2020
"Partying With the Khmer Rouge in ‘Cambodian Rock Band’: Lauren Yee’s ambitious, tonally mixed play uses bait-and-switch tactics to approach the dark heart of a genocidal regime."
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February 28th, 2020
3/5 Stars. "Directed by Chay Yew, 'Cambodian Rock Band' doesn't quite hang together as a whole: It relies too much on contrivance and exposition, especially in the modern parts. But there's something both touching and rousing about the way it honors the lost beat of Cambodia's past. It's an act o...
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February 24th, 2020
"Men to Watch in 'Cambodian Rock Band', 'Blues for an Alabama Sky,' and 'The Headlands'"
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February 24th, 2020
"One of the most widely produced new American plays of the current season, Lauren Yee's plugged-in confrontation with genocidal history takes its New York bow in Chay Yew's electric production."
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Cast & Creatives (3)