New York | 1h 10m | Already closed

Sagittarius Ponderosa

From 5 critic and 8 member reviews
Members say: Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Great acting, Funny, Intelligent

About the show

National Asian American Theatre Company presents MJ Kaufman's drama about a young transgender man whose trip home sparks a journey of self-discovery. More…

Archer, still known as Angela to his family, returns home to Central Oregon to be with his ailing father. With a hard-of-hearing Grandma obsessed with planning her "granddaughter’s" wedding, a father who keeps sneaking out for sugar binges, and a mother wound tightly with worry and anger, Archer grapples with life and death, growth and decay, the passage of time, and identity.


"This dreamy, short family drama is winningly performed by an Asian-American cast and is dynamically presented...Kaufman’s dialogue is a wonderful combination of simplicity and the poetic. The characters all grandly express themselves with mystical overtones. Most crucially Kaufman endows them all with tremendous warmth and humanity...Director Ken Rus Schmoll has also superbly coordinated the production’s superior design components into an enthralling presentation." Full Review

Off Off Online

"Even though Kaufman sets 'Sagittarius Ponderosa' squarely within an Asian-American family, each of these stories is universal...Katigbak’s portrayal of the devastated wife is extremely touching...The challenge with Kaufman’s writing in 'Sagittarius Ponderosa' is the short, stilted scenes, which seem more appropriate for television than the stage...With audiences on two sides of a central playing area, it doesn’t lend itself well to scene changes." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"The director, Ken Rus Schmoll, handles this delicate material with the sensitivity it requires. But if the prevailing mood of melancholy, occasionally interspersed with laughter, is well-established, the action rarely rises to the level of drama. Time passes, events unfold, but there is a striking absence of conflict that makes 'Sagittarius Ponderosa' ultimately more pleasant than gripping...Still, in a play in which the unspoken is of particular importance, the entire cast does well." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"Schmoll's direction and Kimie Nishikawa’s scenic design try to fuse traditional Japanese theatrical forms with the play's Western tone, but the result is tonally disjointed...This direction feels like an unnecessary reminder of the company's 'Asian-ness,' and a tack-on that distracts from the story rather than serving it...There are other aspects of 'Sagittarius Ponderosa' that make the one-act worthwhile...The intersectional representation of trans Asian Americans is all too rare." Full Review

The New York Times

"Unearthly elements suffuse 'Sagittarius Ponderosa,' which is also a domestic drama. That’s a tricky combination to pull off, and a challenge that almost entirely eludes this flat, disjointed production. A large part of the problem is the alley-style staging...This is an intimate, slow-paced play, and if we can’t see characters’ faces at significant moments then we are locked out of that intimacy...The production has some superb elements...Mostly, though, the production fails the play." Full Review

Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Edgy

See it if Want to see a great cast tell a story about family and making connections .

Don't see it if you don't want to read into the text because this plays suspends disbelief a few times.

Funny, Intelligent, Refreshing, Thought-provoking

See it if you're interested in transgender issues, but don't want to be preached at.

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with gender non-conformity, death or illness.

Absorbing, Indulgent, Quirky, Relevant, Ponderosa is too ponderous.

See it if You want to see a quiet, quirky play about a family in transition, and the careful re-calibration of relationships.

Don't see it if If you're looking for an explosive play about gender identity.

Also MJ Kaufman's play is a lyrical attempt at mapping how a family navigat... Read more Read less

During previews
Absorbing, Exquisite, Poignant, Thought-provoking, Refreshing

See it if you want to see an exquisitely-crafted portrait of a family's experience of grief; if you want to see a complex trans* character onstage;

Don't see it if you need plays to be tightly-plotted & clearly-resolved; if you don't truck w/ enigmatic dialogue; if you don't want to go WAY downtown

During previews
Funny, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if you believe in love in all its forms - family, romantic, young, old, etc. Moment to moment the plot seems simple, but the message is complex

Don't see it if everyday life bores you. The characters proceed through their obligations while holding to hope so discover small miracles of connection.

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking

See it if You like modern, minimalist storytelling with great acting.

Don't see it if You like exposition and very clear-cut storytelling.

During previews
Enchanting, Warm, Detached, Surreal, Dreamlike

See it if / Small family dramedy. Asian actors playing characters whose race does not matter, a plus. Clever handling of trans issues, and yearning.

Don't see it if you get confused somewhat easily; you don't like surrealism.

Also We saw Christopher Reyes go on last-minute for Daniel K. Isaac and he ... Read more Read less

During previews
Lovely trans fairy tale set in northwest woods

See it if A sweet love story and family tale. First preview-- compelling but confusing. Not clear to me if Angela/Archer wants to be female or male.

Don't see it if Richly talented all-Asian cast tho characters are not necessarily Asian. Dreamlike staging. One character was a puppet, but I don't know why

Cast & Creatives (12)