Playwright Mayank Keshaviah—a former Wall Streeter turned scribe—attests that he was “theatrically . . . in conversation” with Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman as inspiration for his own stab at the crushed American Dream. However, based on Pan Asian Repertory’s dismal domestic play Rangoon, on view at Theatre Row, it can be assumed that Miller and the Loman clan were unresponsive.
Similar to Miller’s supreme opus only in that they both contain families, Keshaviah’s rambling ode to the working man expressly voices all of the clichés Miller strenuously avoided 60-plus years ago. Dhiraj Patel (Faizul Khan, stiffer than Willy’s corpse at the end of Salesman) is a 7-Eleven manager attempting to carve out a bright future for himself and his family, while fending off orders from his slick cousin (James Rana) who owns the franchise, and the spirit of his grandfather (Krishen Mehta), tsk-tsking his way though Dhiraj’s uneasy Western decisions. And what of that flirty Shoney’s waitress (Kylie Delre) who routinely buys out the store’s shelves of Sudafed and aluminum foil?
Yes, this is the type of play where an entire scene exists for a father to read the Riot Act to a son who gets a few B-pluses on his report card and one in which a daughter is berated for dating a white dude. Horrors! The lack of finesse extends to the actual production, listlessly directed by Raul Aranas on an impractical, ludicrous set by Kaori Akazawa. (Why use a dummy Christmas tree when an ugly, oblong pole will do the trick?) Rangoon seems content to coast solely on good intentions, but here one has to respectfully disagree with the Loman materfamilias: Attention need not be paid.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 6, 2012