Cambodian Rock Band @ ACT Theatre

Finally in Seattle 🎸

📸: ACT Theatre | Lynn Lane

📆 September 29th – November 5th
⏰ Runtime: 2 hours 30 minutes, with one intermission
📍 ACT Theatre: 700 Union Street, Seattle
📞 (206) 292-7676

One of the most dynamic plays of the last decade has finally reached Seattle (presented by ACT and the 5th Avenue Theatre). It’s Lauren Yee’s Cambodian Rock Band, a rock-infused tale of history’s ripples over two generations.

26-year-old Neary is a Cambodian American lawyer who’s in modern-day Phnom Penh hoping to prosecute one of Pol Pot’s deadliest enforcers… when her refugee father suddenly turns up. Why he’s back in the land he fled decades earlier, what information he’s kept from his only child, and how it all connects to the Khmer Rouge and a surf rock band called the Cyclos is the crux of the play as it jumps between the present and the turbulent past.

Yee is one of the country’s most-produced playwrights—local productions include the semiautobiographical King of the Yees (ACT, 2017) and the basketball drama The Great Leap (Seattle Rep, 2018)—and you can also catch her TV writing work with Pachinko, AppleTV+’s dazzling and soulful adaptation of the Min Jin Lee novel.

The idea for Yee’s play came when a friend invited her to see the LA group Dengue Fever live in concert. The band, who specializes in reviving lost Cambodian rock classics, inspired Yee to dig into the history and dramaturgy of their music. Dengue Fever provides the show’s soundtrack of songs new and old, and the six-actor cast doubles as musicians, giving this not-quite-a-musical a hell of a spine.

Really, if the show’s whirlwind energy doesn’t get you moving, you might not have a pulse.

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Marcus Gorman

Marcus Gorman is a Seattle-based playwright and film programmer. He once raised money for a synagogue by marathoning 15 Adam Sandler movies in one weekend. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter @marcus_gorman.