26 September 2013

FRINGE: Viet Kieu

Viet Kieu
25 September 3013
The Butterfly Club
to 6 October (Wednesdy and Sunday only)

Diana Nguyen is so genuinely delightful that I enjoyed every moment of Viet Kieu.

A Viet Kieu is an overseas Vietnamese. Diana's mum came to Australia as a refugee in 1975. Diana grew up in Springvale (Melbourne's little Vietnam) and this show's about Diana's ongoing struggle to be accepted as Vietnamese or Australian, which started when she visited Vietnam as a 12-year-old and was treated as fat and exotic, and continues with her being cast as a prostitute, refugee or drug dealer.

My biggest concern with a show like this is that it’s preaching to the choir. The choir who seem to have all been to Vietnam, as proven by the twitter of recognition with Diana's story about crossing the road by the Bến Thành market in Saigon, or, at least, all know how to say Pho. (Does anyone know of a good vego Pho in Melbourne?) I don't think there's anyone who sees a show called Viet Kieu at a Fringe festival is going to disagree about Australia being a total dick to refugees. 

There’s a lot of great material to work with and I’d really like to see it developed into something with a bit more bite; something that actually nips at us who shop in Springvale because we "love the food" and try to order from the Vietnamese side of a menu.  

It needs to find its bigger story and tell more of Diana's stories but in the meantime, it's funny and gorgeous and it's impossible not to adore Diana Nguyen.

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