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The Last Day 

Thursday, May 3 2012
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Inspired by her father's crucial but clandestine involvement in the U.S.' evacuation of Saigon as it was taken over by the Viet Cong (signaling the failure of the Vietnam War), a young woman struggles to capture accurately his personal story as well as bridge their emotional distance. Piecing together father Bruce Howard's fraught and patchy memoirs and audio recordings into a play, writer-actor Christina Joy Howard adopts an unusual approach by revealing the creative process to the audience. In addition to (scripted) conversations between her and the cast, we observe reality TV–style "video confessionals" while the actors rehearse. Christina plays herself (the writer) as well as her own mother in scenes that flashback to the '60s and later the fall of Saigon in 1975. Director Tiger Reel scores unhurried scene changes with a jukebox arrangement of mostly Brit-pop hits from the era, projecting snapshots of Christina's youthful parents and raw TV news footage on a massive and mobile screen. Unfortunately, the panic and desperation of the evacuation is vivid on newsreel but insufficiently present onstage. Despite overzealous character acting from some of the ensemble, the leads (Christina and Noah Benjamin, playing both himself and Bruce Howard) give excellent performances. Loft Ensemble, 929 E. Second St., No. 105, dwntwn.; Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 7 p.m.; through May 20. (213) 680-0392, loftensemble.com.
Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: April 14. Continues through May 20, 2012
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Reach the writer at paadamek@me.com

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