Ma-Yi Theater Company presents the world premiere of a surreal dark comedy about three fractured family members who find each other through SPAM, journals, and Jesus. Mostly Jesus. More…
Korean American Ana travels to Seoul in 1975 to retrieve her recently deceased father’s ashes. Luke is a young American soldier fighting in the jungles of Myanmar in 1944. Number Four is the name of a Korean "comfort woman" camping out on a bridge in Seoul in 1950, waiting for the return of the US soldier who fathered her daughter. Three separate time periods collide in a small hotel room in Korea, mediated by a shape-shifting Jesus posing as a bellboy.
"The Ma-Yi Theater Company's 'Among the Dead' has officially raised the bar for all theater productions...The writing, the direction, the acting, the lighting and sound design, the set all combine for an unparalleled theatre-going experience. The play is set in three time periods simultaneously. The direction and use of space ensures the audience knows who is saying what in which time period with no additional explanation needed. It not only works, but is a wonder to behold." Full Review
"Comedy of the laugh-out-loud variety is the surprising top note in Hansol Jung’s surreal, somberly titled 'Among the Dead,' a smart and stinging new play...Time blurs and blends in this strikingly designed Ralph B. Peña world-premiere production for Ma-Yi Theater Company, at Here...With this outraged, deeply compassionate play, Ms. Jung is kicking, and expanding our understanding." Full Review
"What a privilege it is to experience truly special writing like Hansol Jung’s ‘Among the Dead.’ This play totally blew me away. A multi-layered story of great depth, ‘Among the Dead’ is a feat of technical elements and story structure...Handles tough subject matter with the reverence such topics deserve but do not often receive…While some of the characters are a little underdeveloped...the magic is in the world that Jung, director Ralph B. Peña, and the design team have created." Full Review
"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) complemented Diana Oh’s soulful, standout performance as Number Four…The tight tech team exhibited their brilliance through expertly creative lighting and sound…A must-see world Premiere." Full Review
"In a small box of a theater, director Ralph B. Peňa works wonders with his adroit staging. As does Reid Thompson with his deceptively clever sets. This is a story told in fragments of shifting time and places. Such plays often don’t coalesce. But thanks to a talented writer and company — especially Mr. Dagger and Ms. Oh — the end of Ana’s journey has a surprising and deeply emotional finish." Full Review
"An exceptional family saga...It's easiest to describe 'Among the Dead' as magical memory...A play of great complexity and intricate layers. The four-piece acting company accepted the challenge of navigating time and space. Along with director Ralph B. Pena, the success of this play depended greatly on clarity. As a whole, they did a mighty fine job...'Among the Dead' is bound to draw some criticism with some of the content but regardless, Hansol Jung’s play is a winner for Ma-Yi." Full Review
"Director Ralph B. Peňa and his design team have fashioned a moving dark comedy from Yung’s script...Jung’s script has its issues – it’s nothing if not sprawling – but it’s also willing to take chances and to do so with a sense of humor. Its characters are generally accessible. You can relate to, get close to them...'Among the Dead’s' greatest fault is that it gives its final payoff short shrift...Peňa’s staging is dynamic." Full Review
"Despite the constant fluctuation of time and space, the direction of Ralph B. Peña and the strong characters created by Jung never allow us to get lost in the back and forth...The play is most effective when lines are blurred between time, place and identity...When Ana is no longer commenting on this history while being forced to live it, we gain efficient exposition but lose the valuable, grounding perspective that ultimately makes the play." Full Review
"Ms. Jung’s reach exceeds her grasp as she attempts to give us a history lesson, comedy, and deeply moving drama rolled up into one package. There are elements of all three here, but in the end, it fell short on all accounts. Too confusing to be a true history lesson...Mr. Pena did an excellent and inventive job of staging the interwoven action, and the actors too, did good work. Ms. Jung needs to do a little less in the future." Full Review
See it if you like quality theater and innovative storytelling....this play has strong writing, smart staging, and impressive acting going for it
Don't see it if you're too lazy to experience a multi-layered intricate story. You prefer linear structure
See it if If you want to be moved, if you're interested in humans struggling, if you like intimate performances
Don't see it if If seeing onstage rape would bother you, if you're just looking for a fun show
See it if You want to support young writers. The plot format is imaginative. The space is well used.
Don't see it if Senseless murder and rape offend you. A GI negotiates a jungle by lying to, using, then abandoning to prostitution a native woman.
See it if you want to experience a new take on a family reunion story and are also interested in seeing a new spin on a war narrative.
Don't see it if you only like linear plots and/or have trouble following multiple storylines at once (there are 3 storylines in this instance).
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