Prodigal Daughter

Writer and director Asa Gim Palomera creates fascinating theatre in her play, The Prodigal Daughter, which runs at C until the end of the Festival on Monday. A story crossing both the Korean War and WWII probes into some uncomfortable areas of paedophilia, cultural stigmatism and abuse of power.

The show opens as Mina (Mandi Sebasio-Ong), a Korean who has lived in the US for more than 30 years returns to the country of her birth for her father's funeral. She is alienated by her family, which at first we assume to have something to do with her Americanised values, but through a series of revelations and flashbacks, we discover a more sinister reason for her treatment. In an attempt to see her family through the Korean War, Mina's mother (Felicity Steel), allows her six-year old child to be abused by an American General (David Dawkins). Nina's mother, having lived with the guilt for decades, appears to blame her own daughter, and the interfering traditionalist Mrs Klang (Elizabeth Semmel) is a constant reminder of her shortcomings. It's about honour, it's about shame, and it has some powerful things to say about the United States as a “liberator“.

But what makes this piece really special is the stylised way Asa Gim Palomera paints the story. There's a precisely choreographed fluid motion, even in blackout as the set changes. It's a discipline I've not seen before, and beautiful to watch. Abandoning the constraints of naturalistic delivery, we occasionally get flashes of movement and chanting that break the conventions of modern theatre. It is also almost cinematic in quality, with sharply delineated scenes.

It's also worth noting the strikingly atmospheric lighting design, which complements the simple, but effective, set perfectly.

If I had any criticism, then it is only that perhaps some of the unnecessary story arcs could be trimmed to help the audience concentrate on the central themes. For instance, we probably don't need to know the Lieutenant (Brook Sykes) has a liking for young boys or his attempts to blackmail the General. These are red herrings, which muddy an otherwise strong narrative.

Reviews by Pete Shaw

Good Grief

★★★★
The Phoenix Arts Club Facebook Live Page

Live From The Phoenix Flat

★★★★★
Crescent - The Vaults

Over My Dad's Body

★★★★
Greenwich Theatre

Sleeping Beauty

★★★★★
Christmas in Leicester Square

La Clique

★★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

Travel home to Korea with Mina in this intimate tale of terrible truths and uncovered secrets. At her father's funeral she faces the fresh reality of her family in this comedic and charismatic production. 'Evocative, striking, beautiful - a jewel'

Most Popular See More

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Les Misérables: The Staged Concert

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets