Yunjin Kim and James Kyson in "Wild Goose Dreams." Photo by Jim Carmody
For a one-act play, even a long-winded one-act play, La Jolla Playhouse’s Wild Goose Dreams is stuffed with enough commentary and would-be cleverness for two acts. Maybe three. Playwright Hansol Jung’s overly ambitious script spins on its shaky axis between a political drama about the divided Korean Peninsula and an uneasy love story nearly swallowed up by the omnipresence of the internet. The latter is personified onstage by an ensemble of young actors voicing the peculiar but well-worn language of emojis, text-speak and pop-ups. It’s a stagey, labored device that quickly loses its novelty.
In this world-premiere production directed by Leigh Silverman, the focal characters are Minsung, a “goose father” in Seoul (James Kyson) who has sent his family to the U.S. where his daughter can be educated, and Nanhee (Yunjin Kim), a North Korean who has defected to the South. Mutual loneliness brings them together via the web, beginning a relationship that is troubled by his separation from his child and her separation from her father (Francis Jue) in the North. Clear enough. But Wild Goose Dreams sinks under the weight of its allusions to mythology and metaphor, and straining as it does for both laughter and tears, it’s tonally all over the map. Kyson and Kim are engaging enough (and Jue even more so), but that walking, talking, beeping, singing “internet” is just begging to be shut down. (Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 9/13/17.)
David L. Coddon is theater critic for San Diego CityBeat