“Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam” A Profoundly Moving Immigrant Story at ACT

I really never understood it before. I knew getting out of Vietnam alive after the war was tough, and I know assimilation into a totally different culture is always fraught with enormous difficulties, but I never knew the devastating details. Trieu Tran spells them all out in the searing, astonishing, unforgettable “Uncle Ho to Uncle Sam” which he wrote with Robert Egan who also directs his one-man performance.

In this world premiere at ACT the audience is taken on a personal journey in which innocence and hope are battered at every turn and dangers are ever present. Where traditional culture and assimilation are antagonists. More than a coming of age story, it documents the courageous, often bitter struggle Tran endured to survive, no less live up to his potential.

Powerful story, powerfully told! Tran, a remarkable actor, calls forth all the emotions as he transforms from frightened little boy to swaggering teenager and then on to maturity. He deals with death of loved ones, is wounded again and again by prejudice, teeters on the edge of criminality, and eventually, almost miraculously, finds his true self.

Carey Wong’s set and Rick Paulsen’s lighting evoke past and present, call forth Vietnamese culture but allow for an American presence. Within its confines Tran ensnares his audience. You cannot leave the theatre without a deeper consideration of our country’s foreign policies and our treatment of immigrants to our shores.

Through Oct 7 at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle, (206 292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org).

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