The play takes an unusually tender-hearted attitude toward Min Suk, never really facing him with the emotional and financial depredations his departure wrought upon his family. If Suh is reluctant to write those scenes, he overwrites others. His dialogue is effective, but the longer speeches tend toward the artificial and indulgent, as when the troubled Ralph describes his mental state as "teetering toward a very nearby precipice beneath which is untold personal misery and psychological disaster." Still, director Trip Cullman and his excellent cast compensate for some of the script's deficiencies. Cullman stages the play briskly and with a minimum of fuss, hurrying the actors on to the next scene, while encouraging succinct displays of nuance and emotive force.

Return of the non-native: James Saito and Michi Barall in American Hwangap
Matt Zugale
Return of the non-native: James Saito and Michi Barall in American Hwangap

Details

Groundswell
By Ian Bruce
The Acorn Theater
410 West 42nd Street, 212-279-4200

American Hwangap
By Lloyd Suh
The Wild Project
195 East 3rd Street, 212-352-3101

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Suh's refusal to write the central dinner scene is formally interesting, but also somewhat faint-hearted. The play seems to require that central confrontation, but Suh dodges it. That's a pity. Having discussed the dumplings, the dduk-gook, and the frosted cake, Suh shouldn't let them go untasted. Min Suk would seem to agree: After the fete, he peers from his maple tree perch at his unhappy family and muses, "Good party."

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