Hmong Bollywood

Marc Norberg

Near the end of Katie Ka Vang's one-woman show, she offers up a detail that is an apt metaphor for her world-premiere piece. Vang is discussing her mother's work as a seamstress and how she was only ever given piecework to do — a collar here, a sleeve there — instead of a full garment. Hmong Bollywood, produced by Pangea World Theater, feels like that — comedy here, personal stories there, a smattering of poetry and storytelling in between — that offers plenty to recommend on its own but doesn't necessarily hang together as a complete show. Vang uses her love of the distinctly Indian films to tie together the moments from her life and her family's experiences in Laos and in America. As noted, many of these anecdotes are quite compelling, from the experiences of her father as a 13-year-old soldier (and eventual drug addict) to her own confrontation with cancer. Other pieces, like having her mother constantly trying to set her up with a husband, are presented with a lighter touch. Throughout, the distinct sounds and sights of Bollywood films — from the catchy, propulsive dance numbers to the intense melodrama to the vibrant visuals — are presented as punctuation to the different elements or as interludes between the heavier scenes. At times the connections seem tangential to the action, which contributes to the herky-jerky feel of the evening. Vang is a talented actor and writer, and Hmong Bollywood showcases that. It's just that a greater integration of the various elements would make it work so much better.

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