Members say: Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Thought-provoking

About the show

Manhattan Theatre Club presents Qui Nguyen's twist on the classic boy-meets-girl romance. Here, the lovers are refugees from the Vietnam War, newly settled in a relocation camp in Arkansas.

... Read more

Featuring anachronistic pop-culture elements like rap to recreate the meeting of the playwright’s own parents, 'Vietgone' ranges from hilarity to heart-wrenching drama. Obie-winning playwright Nguyen and director May Adrales skip through time and around the globe to present a fresh theatrical take on one real family’s history.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

"Nguyen is clearly a playwright with an inventive mind, and while 'Vietgone' has many pleasures—including jazzy comic performances from an excellent cast, under May Adrales’ direction—it suffers from a lack of discipline...The flippant tone of 'Vietgone' does sometimes pall...The play ends with an immensely moving scene...The laughter subsides; the play’s flaws recede; and we are left with a resonantly ambiguous picture of the manner in which wars have an indelible impact on individual lives." Full Review


"Beautifully conveyed through director May Adrales' unapologetically theatrical staging, 'Vietgone' makes you believe that epic tales of heroism and loss exist all around us in this nation of immigrants...The personal nature of the play and a structural refinement in Nguyen's writing results in an emotional resonance unprecedented in his work...Nguyen's clear-eyed recognition of the realities of war is rare, refreshing, and definitely speaks to a dramatist who has matured…but not too much." Full Review


"An original, affectionate and often funny tribute to the playwright’s parents...The love story develops along the usual lines, although it’s evident that neither the playwright nor his director want to be considered conventional. One drawback are the song, set to original music, but still obdurately ordinary. The lyrics only repeat things we already know from the dialogue...Whatever re-writes Nguyen might have in mind for this play, he’d be wise to start by tossing out the tunes." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"The playwright and director May Adrales have collaborated to deliver a wildly fun, imaginative production. Not all of it works, and the play itself could benefit from some trimming. But individual elements are terrific, such as the Vietnamese characters speaking in flawless English while the Americans talk with an exaggerated, ungrammatical drawl...In the terrific ensemble, Lee and Ikeda display sizzling chemistry and formidable comic chops." Full Review

Time Out New York

"The freshest, most exuberantly youthful piece I’ve seen at MTC in ages...Adrales’ high-octane staging moves so swiftly and surely, you may not initially appreciate the buckets of stagecraft she and Nguyen throw at us scene after scene...It's the immigrant narrative, but told with disarming frankness and humor—plus a roadside throwdown involving rednecks and ninjas. I cannot emphasize enough what a versatile and lovable cast this is." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"In its admirable insistence on overturning the usual pieties and insisting that the Vietnamese refugees who populate the play are not helpless victims in a racist America, the play can sometimes be sophomoric, even grating. Then again, when the author's voice is this fresh and funny, how can one complain too much?...Under Adrales' fast-paced, often buoyant direction, the cast proves to be excellent company...'Vietgone' has become surprisingly moving, its many excesses notwithstanding." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

"Overtly rollicking and sneakily moving...Some of the writing is lazy, with Nguyen so comfortable in his ultra-vernacular style that he doesn’t challenge himself to create a more distinctive diction for each character...Adrales’s direction is sometimes more vivid than precise...But 'Vietgone' is a more serious work than it initially seems...He sneaks in warmth behind the silliness, solemnity alongside the kung fu, making the deliberately preposterous feel vibrantly real, even poignant." Full Review

New York Theater

"Nguyen and director May Adrales find such richly inventive and entertaining ways to tell the story of these two refugees that the play feels wiped clean of the clichés of both the 'immigrant experience' and 'the hell of war'...For all the pop-culture silliness, the playfulness with language, and the clever stagecraft, 'Vietgone' paints complex and credible portraits of the two main characters...'Vietgone' is comic and compassionate; overlong—and overdue." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Astonishingly, none of this feels extraneous or gratuitous...And despite the (intentionally) broad playing style, passionate, complex feelings do indeed come through...'Vietgone' does not entirely benefit from the nonlinear chronology Nguyen has imposed, and the zaniness does start to wear a bit thin...Even during the weaker stretches, though, director May Adrales keeps the pacing sprightly and the froth bubbling, and keeps you from remaining at sea for long." Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

"Nguyen’s script adds confessional rap, fight sequences, and moments so real that the Vietnam we grew up with takes on a whole new shape. This is fantasy-fiction that tells a story of realism. The language is charming slang using humor laced with profanity just to keep things real...This is a talented and clever company...Nguyen’s 'Vietgone' is about loss while his characters use a brave determination to survive in a way that is hip, jarring and oh so watchable." Full Review

New York Daily News

"Qui Nguyen’s ode to his parents' history takes an unruly approach to a how-I-met-your-mother tale...Theatricality abounds: the fourth wall falls, Saigon falls too, cartoony ninjas kick into action, rap songs underscore everything. Except for the simplistic songs that stop the play in its tracks, it clicks." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Playwright Nguyen has developed characters with believable conflicts that drive an intriguing and transformative plot...Under May Adrales’s careful direction, Jennifer Ikeda, Raymond Lee, and the ensemble cast deliver captivating performances permeated with honesty and authenticity...'Vietgone' adds to the richness of the understanding of how love transcends indifference and adds richly to the dramatic fabric of contemporary American theatre." Full Review

New York Theatre Guide

"Part playful, part deadly serious, Qui Nguyen takes aim at both Baby Boomers and Millennials alike in his innovative new work and hits both targets...Nguyen has structured the piece very cleverly, and has given every audience demographic a sympathetic way into the story, ably assisted by his creative team...The play challenges the political views we’ve clung to for decades...He might make us think, but the thought is delivered or followed with a laugh, and that feeling of connection." Full Review


“Downtown theatergoers know the work of Qui Nguyen from his productions at the Vampire Cowboy Theatre Company which he co-founded in 2000. While ‘Vietgone’ is often untidy and overly complex, this exuberant autobiographical play is a fascinating look at the Vietnamese American experience from their point of view written by an insider. Under the direction of May Adrales, the versatile cast makes this an offbeat and absorbing evening in the theater.” Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"The cast members are appealing, but the acting is uneven and often unsubtle. The first-rate production benefits from an excellent scenic design by Tim Mackabee, greatly enhanced by Jared Mezzocchi’s projections...Director May Adrales skillfully holds it all together. It’s an unruly play that could use a slight trim, but its energy and inventiveness go a long way to make up for its shortcomings. I found it refreshing and worthwhile." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"It is often wildly entertaining, and yet the play provokes thought about the plight of those who left Vietnam during the infamous war...It is mainly the humor that defines this take on the subject, with rap sequences, slapstick and jokes about sex...'Vietgone' director May Adrales accents its comically mischievous edge as well as the serious side. Some cutting might be wise and there are dull spots here and there. But deep feelings effectively burst forth." Full Review


"A sweet, rather straightforward story...It's the telling that's complicated, with Nguyen apparently employing every theatrical device he ever saw, thought of or heard about...There are comic-book fights, distracting projections and musical moments, including performances of (not very good) rap songs that are liberally sprinkled with the usual profanities...The problem with 'Vietgone' is that its focus is scattered, often seeming to slide from the story to the novelty of its telling." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"The setting is the past but the vibe is totally contemporary...Stereotypes are constantly turned on their heads...And, layering real substance underneath all the hijinks, views of the 20-year-long war are similarly upended. The AARP-aged couples on both sides of me left at intermission but the two hours and 20 minutes whizzed by for me and I can't wait to see what Nguyen does next." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"'Vietgone' moves into newer territory for the usually staid pieces seen at Manhattan Theatre Club...Very contemporary, flippant and freewheeling play that includes rap, hip-hop (original music Shane Rettig), ninjas, ongoing expletives and frequent timeline changes that can be a little head-spinning...May Adrales directs this playful, yet serious piece and seems to know how to go with the flow, creating an excellent presence." Full Review


"Sometimes funny, occasionally exasperating and totally confounding...'Vietgone' is garnished heavily with potty humor and a generous dollop of rap...It is the surreal aspects, under the helter-skelter direction of Adrales, that make this otherwise over-long skit defensible...Nguyen can be respectfully acknowledged for his decision to avoid anything close to reverential. Perhaps I just wasn't convinced that his honorable family story was best served through this style of politicized farce." Full Review

Act Three - The Reviews

"In Mr. Nguyen's eyes, America is far from perfect—and he actually nails the stereotypical types throughout the south and west...A bit too zany at times (it was the '70s after all) and a bit too long and drawn out in others—this play has a future if tightened and given a general tune-up...The story of the actual South Vietnamese is one we Americans rarely consider...Not all of these questions get answered but the last 10 minutes of the play will bring the entire piece to a crescendo close." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"The story is moving, the rhymes are natural and poignant, and the characters touch on many real challenges of coping with refugee life. Director May Adrales has expertly drawn out wonderful performances from this cast...Nguyen has lovingly created a tribute to his family and his heritage through humor and heart, and without ever stepping foot on the proverbial soap box. 'Vietgone' is definitely not to miss." Full Review

Theater Life

"Nguyen and Adrales tell the story in a thoroughly modern way, lavishly employing the hallmarks of pop culture. There is no real reason for this choice, it seems, other than drawing millennials into the theater and making the old folks feel hip. But this choice has a profound effect on the play...Nguyen had a story to tell. Why he chose to appropriate that story by telling it in terms that have little to do with the characters he presents is anyone’s guess." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"The emotional elements do not consistently fuse with the production’s approach but it’s sexy, funny, and smart a lot of the time...One of the strongest elements of the play is Ikeda’s performance of Tong...It’s nice to see a female character, particularly one in essentially a romantic comedy, be neutral (to hostile) about marriage and motherhood...Despite these smart and interesting choices, the play stumbles when it breaks into rap and R&B musical numbers." Full Review

Diandra Reviews it All

"'Vietgone' is a must-see...It has laughs, ninjas, a serious rap flow, and a rare perspective on the Vietnam War...Nguyen's insights on the Vietnamese perspective are fascinating...'Vietgone' assures that you are always spiritually connected to the characters' stories by, again, having a marvelously talented cast...'Vietgone' truly is a poignant tale for our current socio-political atmosphere. Wonderfully directed by May Adrales." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Intelligent, Hilarious, Eye-opening

See it if refugees, the Vietnam War, or racial stereotypes are things that cross your mind.

Don't see it if think stereotypes should be perpetuated...? Or I guess if language offends you.

Funny, Great acting, Masterful, Quirky, Smart

See it if Unique perspective on Asian American experience, rap musicals

Don't see it if dislike rap

Clever, Edgy, Relevant, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if u dig issues of identity & home & immigration & emigration & stereotypes turned upside down to crazy inventive, humorous, poignant effect

Don't see it if you don't dig original, timely, important work.

Also There are perhaps Hamiltonian moments & moments wholly unlike anything... Read more Read less

Funny, Intelligent, Refreshing, Resonant, Great writing

See it if you are interested in a story that focuses on a Vietnamese perspective on the Vietnam War.

Don't see it if you don't like rap music.

Edgy, Quirky, Disappointing, Strange

See it if You think it's funny when characters speak anachronistically (like cliched millennials); you like it when shows mix several styles.

Don't see it if You are bothered by annoying, hammed up side characters. You want a deeper exploration...of something.

Also I really liked the ending - it showed the actors could act and their p... Read more Read less

Funny, Clever, Quirky, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you want a vietnamese refugees perspective and becoming an american

Don't see it if you don't want to be reminded of the loves lost & found

Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant, Great writing

See it if Looks at a time in history and adds a fresh new view.

Don't see it if If you don't enjoy contemporary theatrical experiences

Funny, Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy a lighthearted love story set against the historical backdrop of Vietnamese immigrants after the Vietnam war.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy plays about love or war.

Also There are some surprisingly good special effects in a limited space.

Clever, Relevant, Entertaining, Engaging, Thank you mtc!

See it if Refreshing take on the Asian immigrant experience and Vietnam War; Qui Nguyen is a playwright to watch. Clever, Energetic, production.

Don't see it if Are uncomfortable with profanity; only like conventional theater; or can't follow a plot that is not linear.

Funny, Great acting, Great staging, That 70s show

See it if Poor person's Hamilton.Great songs, fights. Armadillos a rare sight on stage. Lucky audience members get a fortune cookie; in my case two.

Don't see it if Historically weak. Dialogue is way too contemporary for the time. Rap had yet to emerge. Opening scene w playwright way too cute and hammy.

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if you like a show that's a bit off-beat; interested in history from another point of view with a bit of rap thrown in for good measure.

Don't see it if you prefer the ordinary, run-of-the-mill show; hate rap, profanity, and sex; you are not interested in history from another point of view.

Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Quirky, Frustrating

See it if You are happy even when the parts are greater than the many wonderful aspects-great staging, acting,A/V effects and innovative POV

Don't see it if The cartoonish presentation distracts from the deeper story Both the rapping (not very good IMO) and the vulgar language were not essential

Absorbing, Clever, Intelligent, Relevant, Great singing

See it if Want an Original innovative show. Humorous. Good songs

Don't see it if Insist on traditional ballads in a musical.

Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Resonant

See it if You enjoy seeing modern plays that take a "hip-hop remix" attitude towards time and pop culture. You like plays from diverse perspectives

Don't see it if You don't like swearing and rap music. You don't like having preconceived notions challenged.

Dizzying, Epic, Quirky, Refreshing, Hilarious

See it if you're up for a wildly fresh & funny take on the Asian immigrant experience — language, change, war, loss & love as seen from that side.

Don't see it if you're easily confused by nonlinear plays, don't like needlessly vulgar rap, asians, immigrants or have writ in stone opinions about Vietnam

Also Every family has stories; some are more colorful or epic, others more ... Read more Read less

Funny, Absorbing, Intelligent, Profound, Great singing, staging, writing, directing, and acting

See it if plays that cast a different perspective on a well-known historical event using the very best theatricality sparks you curiosity

Don't see it if you prefer the typical living-room dramas produced for this sort of audience or if you don't care for excessive profanity.

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You like plays about fitting in.

Don't see it if You just want entertainment

Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Riveting, Hilarious

See it if you like genre-bending, original, extremely entertaining, multimedia theater that uses a wrecking ball on prejudice against immigrants.

Don't see it if you voted for Drumpf.

Ambitious, Clever, Cliched, Entertaining

See it if You like something novel but falls flat

Don't see it if Want something more mainstream

Funny, Clever, Entertaining, Great singing, Great staging

See it if You want to see a cute love story with singing,dancing and rapping

Don't see it if You don't like rapping and a little cursing

Ambitious, Great staging

See it if like Incredible production of a very important era. good acting & poetic rapping.

Don't see it if If profanities bother you

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Disappointing, Great staging

See it if The topic interests you.

Don't see it if Even though it is an important story, the play feels disjointed and I found it hard to care about the characters.

Also The mother daughter relationship was unpleasant to watch. The mother d... Read more Read less

Original, Quirky, Great staging, Hysterical, Great fun

See it if you appreciate great new work and can't afford to see Hamilton - this is one of the best shows I've seen this season!

Don't see it if there is no good reason not to see this!

Disappointing, Excruciating, Overrated, Slow

See it if You want to see a new original work that explores the relationships of a Vietnamese immigrant family and friends displaced by the war.

Don't see it if You expect a well written and executed production that strains unsuccessfully to be hip, urbane and funny.

Funny, Ambitious, Refreshing, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you want an inventive, well-paced new musical that has engaging, fun, & likable characters. It was a strong cast, dialogue, & plot.

Don't see it if you don't want mediocre music & lyrics. Also, the theme contradicts itself over the course of the play & weakens the overall impact.

Cast & Creatives (13)