17 March 2015

The Game-Changer That Is Miss Saigon

I wrote this on the train home from London one night in February - it ended up quite well, despite my tiredness after a day wandering around the city, but it stayed in my drafts folder for ages! I've now decided that, yeah, it's a little poetic, but I like it! So here goes...! (WARNING: SPOILERS!!)

I have a thing about trains. Not just trains themselves, this isn't as ASDF movie, but blogging on trains - it's so much easier than blogging at school or in my bedroom. This week, I've spent a long time on trains, travelling to and from London, and it's given me a lot of time for blogging and thinking. As I write this, I am on a near empty train, travelling home from London after seeing an evening performance of the mind-blowing Miss Saigon. Which is what I am going to write about now.

Miss Saigon tells the story of a young Vietnamese girl named Kim, who falls in love with an American soldier named Chris, just days before the fall of Saigon. Chris is forced to return to the US, leaving Kim and his unborn son behind in a now almost dystopian city, ridden with illegalities and money making ploys. Several years later, Chris and his friend John are on a search for Bui Doi - the dust of life - children of US soldiers and Vietnamese girls born in the Vietnam war. A chance crossing with the report of a child in Bangkok reveals the news to Chris that he has a son, and, more importantly to him, that Kim is still alive. John, Chris, and his new wife Ellen travel to Bangkok to attempt to find Kim and her son Tam. Their search is successful, to a certain extent. While John and Chris are searching for Kim and Tam, and Ellen is in their hotel room, Kim arrives at the hotel room searching for Chris, where she eventually persuades Ellen to take Tam back to America with them. Upon Chris and John's return to the hotel, Ellen breaks the news that Kim has already been and gone, but when they eventually find Kim, she has handed over her son to the Engineer, and, with John and Chris outside, she shoots herself, unwilling to live in a world without Chris any longer. The show ends with Chris discovering Kim on the brink of death, and after a short exchange, dying in his arms. 

With powerful lyrics, stunning choreography and a mid-blowing set, Miss Saigon is certainly a game changer. Not a game changer in that I now have aspirations to be on the stage (ah, no, we've all known that for a long time!) but a game-changer in that even my dad spent the walk through Soho back to the train station singing The American Dream. And that says a lot - my dad is the kind of man that comes home from work and tells me to turn the Les Miz soundtrack down - I mean, c'mon - LES MIZ? At low volume?! Anyhow, if it can get my dad humming and singing, then it MUST have been good! 
Now would probably be a good point to say that the show is NOT appropriate for all ages - there are quite a few scenes of the "Lovely Ladies" variety, if you catch my drift! The front of house staff, however, were incredible, and warned my parents before we were even inside the theatre! The website recommends the show for ages 12+, and I could not agree more - my 12 year old sister coped pretty well with it all, but a year or two ago her eyes would have fallen right out of her head! 
Miss Saigon is the kind of show that leaves you feeling a million different emotions all at once - anger at Ellen for pulling Kim and Chris apart, sadness at Kim's sudden death (spoilers LOL), gratefulness towards the Engineer for handing over Tam, but most of all, hatred for war and unfairness, events which prevent children from growing up with a good education and two supportive parents and three square meals a day. Even though these fictional events took place 40 years ago, there are still thousands of Bui Doi around the world - children who have grown up in the toughest of circumstances, without many, or even any of the luxuries we are lucky enough to enjoy in our country. 
The cast performed beyond my greatest expectations, and I certainly have some new theatrical role models from tonight!

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