Anyone who thinks the Colony Theatre in Burbank caters only to the blue-rinse set with safe, theatrical selections will be pleasantly surprised and refreshed by the first of this year's six-show season. Brilliantly directed by David Rose, Michael Golamco's play about a young med student and her teen brother facing an uncertain and divided future is a tender story filled with beautifully calibrated, incendiary performances swirling around the psychological fallout from the Cambodian killing fields. Newly orphaned, Ra (Christine Corpuz) and Vuthy (David Huynh, giving a broad but convincing teen performance) are the offspring of a recently deceased Cambodian refugee. It turns out these two knew little of their mother's grim fight for survival. Running a store in Long Beach's Cambodian community, she concentrated on keeping her kids away from gangs and teen pregnancy. Young, ripped and inked-up gang member Han (Tim Chiou) has just been sprung from prison, but he's no thug. Han remembers the mother's kindness over the years and wants to help his neighbors, to "give back." But Ra is proud and thinks she can cope by sending her brother to live with an "auntie" while she completes her studies at Berkeley. Vuthy is being bullied at school and looks to Han for advice. Succumbing to Han's fervent interest, Ra starts contemplating a future minus her milquetoast Chinese boyfriend (Eymard Cabling). Short but satisfying scenes glide by with the grace and precision of figure skating, effortlessly skirting stereotypes and predictable outcomes, while a dynamic pace is fuelled by Peter Bayne's contemporary, driving score. Colony Theatre, 555 N. Third St., Burbank; Thurs.-Sun., 8 p.m., Sun., 2 p.m., thru July 3. (818) 558-7000, colonytheatre.org.
Sat., June 4, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m.; Thursdays, Fridays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 & 8 p.m. Starts: June 4. Continues through July 3, 2011