A Heartbreaking Tale of Love and Tragedy
Reviewed by Brendan Daynes
Within the world of musical theatre, very few productions possess the ability to evoke emotions as deep and poignant as Miss Saigon. Opera Australia’s accomplished team has skilfully directed and given life to this theatrical masterpiece, captivating audiences with its portrayal of love, loss, and the haunting repercussions of war.
Against the tumultuous backdrop of the Vietnam War, this production depicts a world entangled in conflict. Unfolding amidst the chaos of Saigon’s fall, Nigel Huckle breathes life into the character of Chris, an American GI, who falls in love with Kim, portrayed by the remarkable Abigail Adriano, a young Vietnamese orphan forced into a life of desperation as a bar-girl and prostitute. Their love, like fragile blossoms in a war-torn field, faces destruction when Chris, oblivious to Kim’s pregnancy, returns to the U.S. After fleeing Vietnam with the Engineer, portrayed by Seann Miley Moore, Kim arrives in Bangkok where eventually Chris discovers the existence of his son, Tam, a “bui-doi” abandoned in the war’s aftermath. Kerrie Anne Greenland embodies the character of Ellen, Chris’s American wife, adding layers to the narrative like the intertwining branches of a complex family tree. The characters navigate emotional complexities and ethical dilemmas, their journeys unfolding like intricate origami, revealing the painful aftermath of a war that left countless children stranded in its wake.
At the narrative’s core lies the Engineer, brilliantly brought to life by Seann Miley Moore, who serves as the linchpin, steering the narrative with captivating finesse and injecting a modern, refreshing dimension into the role. Moore exudes an intriguing blend of charisma, wit, and poignant vulnerability that depicts the Engineer as sexually fluid and somewhat feminine yet undeniably strong and commanding. Nigel Huckle’s portrayal of Chris is equally impressive, conveying the character’s inner turmoil and conflict convincingly. The chemistry between Kim and Chris is undeniable and their interactions are rich with raw human emotion. The standout performance undoubtedly belongs to newcomer Abigail Adriano in the role of Kim. Her portrayal is both heartbreaking and genuine, resonating with the audience’s emotions. Adriano’s vocal prowess is showcased beautifully as she delivers her songs with a heartfelt authenticity that leaves a lasting impact.
This emotionally charged narrative intricately threads a tapestry of emotions, seamlessly blending love, sacrifice, and tragedy to craft a masterpiece. The brilliance of Bruno Poet’s lighting design deserves acclaim, casting the audience into the paradoxically gritty yet enchanting realm of Saigon. Meanwhile, the use of projections, orchestrated by Luke Halls, introduces a dynamic layer to the production, vividly unraveling the haunting realities of war. The choreography, skilfully curated by Associate Choreographer Richard Jones, is an exemplary demonstration of pure artistry. Each movement is executed with a precision that renders it an integral and indispensable element of the show. Jones’s meticulous attention to detail becomes the invisible force that binds the audience to the performance, ensuring an immersive and captivating journey from the opening note to the final curtain fall.
It’s hard to categorise the performance as an enjoyable due to the somber subject matter. However, the impact is undeniable. It serves as a stark reminder of the human cost of war and the consequences that linger long after the battles have ceased.The audience is forced to reflect on the enduring struggles faced by those affected by war, drawing parallels to contemporary conflicts and the suffering of countless refugees worldwide. In essence, the narrative is a powerful commentary on the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
Miss Saigon is more than just a play, it is an emotional rollercoaster that etches a profound mark on the hearts of its audience. Through a compelling narrative, poignant performances, and impressive production elements, it takes the audience on a captivating journey through the depths of love and tragedy. Beyond its theatrical prowess, the show’s resonance with contemporary issues stands as a testament to the enduring relevance of its themes, underscoring the potent impact and transformative power of theatre.
Miss Saigon is currently being performed by Opera Australia at Her Majesty’s theatre in Melbourne before opening in Adelaide in January 2024. For more information and to purchase tickets please visit https://miss-saigon.com.au/