When seeing a show that is familiar to all you know what you are in for. On the other hand, attending a new play has a surprise element to it. Going in with a blank slate allows you to explore. Last weekend I saw the World Premiere of “The Tiger Among Us” written by Lauren Yee at the Mixed Blood Theatre on the West Bank. Mu Performing Arts produced the play and I commend them for trying out a new work. One of my friends on the board explained to me that Mu has been commissioning new playrights which includes a few women and have been taking chances each season. Mixing new and old work in a theater’s repertoire in and of itself is a great idea.
“The Tiger Among Us” was set in Perham, Minnesota, present day. It explored a Hmong family and their mix of traditional Hmong values and how it tied in with modern life. The shell of the show was fine but as the play unfolded, there were too many moving pieces which began to annoy me. Call me critical but too many plot lines were taking place which in my book, calls for some fine tuning of the story. However, the woman behind me seemed completely shocked by every twist and turn. She was vocal throughout the show and seemed to enjoy it. That’s the best part of theater, personal opinion.
A few highlights:
- Maxwell Chonk Thao who played the brother, Pao, is a wonderful actor. Last year I saw him in Mu’s rendition of “Into the Woods”. He played Jack and did a fabulous job. His main song “Giants in the Sky” was executed very well. I’m convinced that he can take on any role and turn it into a compelling character.
- The venue of choice was smart. Mixed Blood Theater has a long stage which allowed for many different scenes and places to come to life: a home, a car, hunting in the woods, spotlight scenes and so forth.
This play has a good start and with some changes it could be even more compelling. If you are looking for new work to see the show is running through February 10th.
Mu Performing Arts: