Crowded Fire Theater company has been on fire recently with their bold productions of innovative new works. When we heard they had a new show opening, in their recently renovated space, we knew we wanted to go see it. So off we went for a night of Drama Talk and Drinks in Potrero Hill to catch their latest show and the Bay Area premiere of Mia Chung’s play You For Me For You.
Brittany: That was a very interesting play. There were certain things that I liked a lot. It was interesting to see the one sister (Minhee played by Kathryn Han) essentially travel through her psyche, dealing with her past and coping with the craziness of North Korea . It was also interesting to see the world from the perspective of Junhee (Grace Ng) a North Korean refugee. It gave a the audience a first person POV of what the immigrant experience feels like. But then there were some things that confused me about the script, like, I don’t think I really understood how the passage of time worked in the play.
Katie: Yeah, that was confusing. I’m not sure why they brought up time at all. It just made my brain try and connect the dots between the two story-lines, which distracted me from truly connecting to the emotional elements of the story.
B: That happened to me too. It was a very intellectual play, and it was intellectually interesting to me, but the part of my brain that was trying to understand exactly what was going on distracted me from getting as emotionally involved.
K: I agree, once the older sister fell “into the well”, the stakes disappeared since I assumed there wasn’t really any going back. I love magical realism, but the extreme shifts this show between the magic and the realism didn’t work for me, I just couldn’t connect with it.
B: I thought it was a very creative and smart play though. I liked the way they interpreted what it must be like for a person who’s new to a country and doesn’t speak the language. There are sounds are coming at you but you don’t know what they are. I also appreciated the way they used the idea of food to create a powerful juxtaposition between life in North Korea, where she had to beg for rice, compared to life in America, where she couldn’t order lunch because there were too many options on the menu. I think I would tell people to go see it because it’s interesting, even if I wasn’t that emotionally invested in it. I thought the actors were talented too.
K: Yeah, the actors were really good. I just think there was something about the structure of the script that distracted me. The production, the new perspectives, the actors were all good, but overall the play as a whole didn’t quite do it for me.
The Verdict: You For Me For You is a very smart play that provides some fascinating insights into life in North Korea, and the American refugee experience. If you want to see a play that makes you think, go see it, if you’re looking for something that makes you feel all the feels, you may want to sit this one out since it’s a little heady.
The Drama Talk: Crowded Fire Theater calls itself “A vital home for fierce, new plays” which is why we love this company. They’re always doing something fresh and interesting, that usually speaks to the moment in which we are living. New plays can be tricky though, because when you try new things they don’t always work, which is how You For Me For You felt for us. It’s a fascinating script that tries a lot of interesting things and makes the audience think. But sometimes less is more, and You For Me For You, in throwing the audience about in time, space and reality made it harder to connect to the deeply emotional story of two sisters trying to save each-other from the trauma of life in North Korea.
The Drinks: We really only go to one bar after a show at the Thick House and that’s Blooms Saloon. It’s close with plenty of seating, cheap drinks, and a sweet view. We can never find a reason to head somewhere else.
For you For Me For You runs through April 1st at Thick House. Tickets are $15-$30 and can be purchased on their website.