DURANGO is a visceral tour de force

Veronica Appia


DURANGO is an enticingly written play that combines timeless motifs with modern intergenerational conflict to create a relatable and deeply visceral theatrical masterpiece.

Written by Julia Cho and directed by Ashlie Corcoran, DURANGO raises the stakes and presents us with three men at pivotal moments in their lives, all grappling with life-changing decisions, monumental secrets and the struggle to do the right thing – or rather, to discover what the right thing even is.

Boo-Seng Lee (Hiro Kanagawa) is laid off from his job, after sacrificing his life and his happiness in order to be the “foundation” on which his children could grow. With his youngest son Jimmy (Philip Nozuka) being a swimming champion and his eldest son Isaac (David Yee) just steps away from med school, things seem to be going just as planned for his children.  Little does Boo know, he’s not the only one who is keeping secrets from his family.

All of Cho’s characters are vastly different, each of them clashing with the others to create tiny explosions throughout the course of the play. They are all so intrinsically complex and are bound to surprise you with moments of self-discovery along the way.

The actors take on the challenge with great success and present the audience with wildly memorable and honest performances.

Yee and Nozuka make the perfect pair, with Yee as the lethargic, go-with-the-flow older brother, and Nozuka as the hopeful, energetic people-pleasing youngster. Together they rip each other apart and build each other back up. Their dependence on each other is critical and the audience can feel it right down in their hearts.

Kanagawa plays dogged like no other. Completely stuck with unfulfilled dreams and unmendable heartache, Kanagawa has the audience on his character's side, no matter what cold, heartless or bizarre act he pulls off. Completely raw, we see through the loveless facade and cannot help but to love him ourselves.

The set design by Jung-Hye Kim is an interesting concept and a beautiful metaphor. The characters perform the majority of the scenes on the rooftop of a home. The rooftop transforms from a road, to a motel room, to Durango, to everything in between, highlighting the fact that though the Lees have a house, sharing a roof over their heads does not necessarily make them a family.

DURANGO is both completely relatable and completely heart-shattering. It celebrates dissimilarity and accepts the often bleak reality that people of different generations cannot always see eye-to-eye.

 The Canadian Premiere of DURANGO is presented by Theatre Smash and fu-GEN Theatre Company. It is playing at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre until May 31. For more information visit http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/2014-15/durango/.