Miss Saigon – Bord Gais Energy Theatre – Review by Fran Winston
Bord Gais Energy Theatre, Grand Canal Square, Docklands, Dublin 2
October 4th to November 17th at 7.30pm nightly. Matinee performances every Thursday and Saturday at 2.30pm. Tickets €15 – €70.50
Most touring productions passing through the Bord Gais Energy Theatre run for around a week. The fact that this show is booked in for six weeks is a testament to its enduring popularity. Despite premiering 25 years ago it still continues to capture the public’s imagination despite the difficult subject matter – the repercussions of an American GI’s romance with a Vietnamese girl while stationed there during the war. It has also had to overcome accusations of racial stereotyping and misogyny over the years. Add to this the fact that the Vietnam War is not a subject that many under the age of 50 are very familiar with and it is a wonder that this show remains so popular. But you can’t argue with bums on seats and it continues to sell out wherever it plays.
If you were to get analytical you could argue that this is down to the universal themes of love, hope and the sacrifices we make for those we care about. However, it helps that this is a visually epic show. This latest revival produced by the legendary Sir Cameron Mackintosh has altered some elements of the show since its original outings (one or two songs have been replaced and some of the scenes are staged differently) but its scale remains enormous. It has the kind of effects that make you gasp in wonderment at their execution but yet they never detract from the story.
Taking the lead role of Kim, the young Vietnamese girl who finds herself deserted by her GI lover is Korean actress Sooha Kim who gives an amazing performance taking the character from frightened 17-year-old girl to battle hardened but hopeful mother. She previously played the role in Japan (in Japanese) but she seems completely at home with the English version. While all of the cast and ensemble (and it’s a really big ensemble) are wonderful this is very much her show and she ably carries the story on her delicate shoulders.
The choreography is a visual delight and again will have you gasping in awe – this time at the talents of those performing. As you would expect from such a popular show the songs are enjoyable and in a few cases thought-provoking. The set is an accomplishment in engineering and of a far grander scale than you usually see in a touring show.
If it wasn’t for the fact that this is essentially a tragic tale it would be a pretty near perfect musical. But it is impossible to watch this and not relate it to many current situations in the world meaning that you leave it awestruck but thoughtful rather than dancing out the door singing the songs.
Epic, visually stunning and thought-provoking, this is a musical masterpiece that will resonate with you long after you leave the theatre. It is 15 years since it was last in Ireland and it would be a shame to wait that long again to see it so catch now while you can.