A WARM BOWL OF PHO IS SERVED UP IN THE METAVERSE OF ‘MY HOME ON THE MOON’
The World Premiere Minna Lee’s new play is a blast of “Everything Everywhere All At Once” and the creative arc of Assassin's Creed mixed in with an AI floating noodle.
Review by Vince Mediaa
The SFPH stage has transformed into a Pho Lan Restaurant, a bit rundown and lacking customers. Outside owner Lan see’s the gentrification of her neighborhood as her prayers are answered from her Vietnamese ancestors. The San Francisco Playhouse continues their current season with an other-worldly world premiere production MY HOME ON THE MOON now on their Kensington Park Hotel stage only through Feb 26th. Written by Minna Lee and Directed by Mei Ann Teo this new play was a finalist in the 2024 Bay Area Playwrights Festival and semi-finalist for Ashland New Plays Festival. Writer Minna Lee is a Hmong-Vietnamese who uses their work to celebrate queer love and summon portals into fantastical worlds.
This is a humorous, sincere, metaphysical exploration of Vietnamese ancestry. A blast of “Everything Everywhere All At Once” and the creative arc of Assassin's Creed mixed in with an AI floating noodle. Waiter Mai played by the stellar Jenny Nguyen Nelson must balance the perfection of artificial life with the harshness of reality. The owner Lan played by the accomplished Sharon Omi, talks to her Viet ancestors and in a dark moment of the power going off - a perfect wish appears as Vera enters “I will promise you something new, something different, something that will change the world.” Vera sleekly dressed is played by the terrific Rinabeth Apostotol, she seems very automated yet charming. Mai and Lan's life almost becomes perfect as Vera turns the restaurant into a success that includes new menu items from Mia.
Thanks to Vera and a company called Novus, the Pho diner is transformed into “The Pho-Fantastic.” with bright orange walls and the jungles of Vietnam filling the windows. The multi talented Will Dao plays four characters including the flamboyant Food Critic who hands a Michelin star to their new menu. Dao also plays a hysterical protester who tries to save Mia and Lan from the Novus Corporation. There is never a distracted moment in Minna Lee’s 90 min script. Set designer Tanya Orellana and props designer Vincent Chau filled out the restaurant's viet charm. The SFPH turntable spins, to reveal scenes not of this world and the heart beat of the meta universe.
Mai is very suspicious of Vera, but as the AI friend begins to enjoy Mia’s friendship, love blossoms. Mai shows Vera how to make an omelet and as the eggs flip new feelings spark. The cast of six also includes the riveting Eric Mei-Ling Stuart as Gigi, an all-business Novus exec. She pops in to make some adjustments to Vera who has mistakenly eaten some of Mia’s food. Director Mei Ann Teo brings this cast together with perfect comic timing and lends some of Michael Oesch’s lighting design that brings the audience into the metaverse game. Teo also keeps the love and heart of Lee’s story. Most impressive is Hao Bai’s projection design that works its way through every open spot at the SF Playhouse audience and stage. Fred C Riley puppet noodle design created an impressive vibe that wins Lans heart.
MY HOME ON THE MOON includes ancestors armed with bánh xèo, chả giò, and delicious pho, Mai’s balances the perfection of artificial life with the harshness of reality. The ending is freeing of her soul and Lan discovers the ghosts of Mai’s ancestors are home on the moon. AI is here and this new play shines with love and hope. Next up at the SFPH is Hitchcock’s 39 Steps that opens March 7th. But in the meantime join the cast of MY HOME ON THE MOON for an amazing bowl of pho.
SAN FRANCISCO PLAYHOUSE PRESENTS
SCI-FI WORLD PREMIERE PLAY
My Home on the Moon
By Minna Lee
Directed by Mei Ann Teo
Must Close February 24, 2024
SAN FRANCISCO PLAYHOUSE
450 Post Street, San Francisco.
Photo Credit: Jessica Palopoli