Actor James Kyson plays Gook Minsung, a lonesome South Korean “goose father,” a label awarded to men who work in their homelands while supporting families in America. Goose fathers align their families with the concept that life and education are better in the U.S. Actress Yunjin Kim plays Yoo Nanhee, a defector from North Korea who left her family, touting her love and loyalty to her father, in her viciously dictator-ruled homeland, but never far from her heart and thoughts.
While Minsung toils at work by day, he prowls online dating services by night to fill the void of his loneliness. Nanhee, who hides her true identity as a North Korean defector, connects with Minsung through a silly romance site. Together they embrace the most unlikely of all romances. Connecting the disconnected and forlorn, “Wild Goose Dreams” provides insight so that we may better understand ourselves.
Jung, who entered the world of theatre by translating Broadway musicals the likes of “My Fair Lady,” “Oklahoma” and “Cabaret” into Korean – almost 30 in all upon completion.
“I started writing it [Wild Goose Dreams] when it was hard to see where I was or who I was with,” writes Jung in an open letter to her audience. “I think the scariest thing about being in the dark – literally and figuratively – is not that you can’t see, but that you are unseen. Being unseen is a very lonely feeling, I thought. So, I put that terrible feeling in two very different people to see if they could help each other out.”
“Hansol Jung’s exquisite new play brings together two strangers bound by their shared loneliness in a hauntingly beautiful piece that shifts between the tangible and the ethereal, the literal and the metaphorical,” said Christopher Ashley, Playhouse artistic director.
Minsung and Nanhoo’s relationship is set against the backdrop of Minsug’s compulsive internet allegiance and Nanhoo’s oddball dreams and visions. The potpourri of elements weaves through comedy, song and present-day headline news.
While characters entertain and cause us to reflect, the most profound elements of “Wild Goose Dreams” are sung by the cast of internet characters. Human voices replace technology. Minsung’s phone plays an essential character.
Although I won’t describe a life spent looking down on a SmartPhone as anything but impersonal, the lovers would most likely would never have met if not for the internet. Within this day and age of the digital realm, the two forever change their lives, as the definition of community and family has been redefined and forever changed by the onset of the instant, and global, world-wide-web. A miracle for some; a travesty for others.
Jung writes about the meaning behind “Wild Goose Dreams” and it's “small miracles” in her open letter, “Like intimate connections between strangers, timely affection between families or just people caring for each other people despite the personal cost... This became a play about love, family, the toxicity of loneliness, the pain of being unmoored or forgotten by people who care about you and how that pain can be soothed.”
“It is my wild goose dream that a small miracle will happen for you. Or that you are reminded of that space of hope you have in your heart.”
“Wild Goose Dreams” also includes Broadway players Francis Jue, Julian Cihi and Rona Figueroa; Carolyn Agan, Samantha Wang and UC San Diego Master Fine Art students DeLeon Dallas, Kyle Hester and Kimberly Monks.
“Wild Goose Dreams” will run through Oct. 1 in the La Jolla Playhouse Mandell Weiss Forum. Performances are scheduled Tuesdays-Wednesdays; 8 p.m. Thursdays-Fridays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; 2 and 7 p.m.