Quote of the Day: With Man of God, I was really interested in exploring this concept of safe space and what happens emotionally and physically to someone when that space is no longer safe. Katie Bradley, Director for Theater Mu’s production of Man of God, playing at Mixed Blood Theatre through March 6, 2022.
Man of God, written by Anna Ouyang Moench, packs a punch with some heavy themes of violation of privacy, eating disorders, breach of trust, and sexual assault. They offer a safe space and resources for people attending these performances who might need a break. That said, it is also a play about teenage girls, their friendships and angst, and also plenty of humor sprinkled in to lighten the mood. Moench has written a powerful and accessible script to tell this story.
Four teenage girls are on a mission trip with their male pastor (Rich Remedios) to Bangkok, Thailand. They are from a Korean-Christian Church in California. They knew each other before the trip, but weren’t necessarily good friends. As they’re settling into their room and preparing to spread the gospel and help the people of Thailand, Kyung-Hwa (Janet Scanlon) discovers a hidden camera in the bathroom. Naturally, the girls freak out about the device and violation of privacy. Jen (Louisa Darr) makes the first attempt to confront the breach of trust. Mimi (Dexieng “Dae” Yang) is the most rebellious and talks a big game to get their revenge. Samantha (Suzie Juul) is in denial until they realize who is behind the disgusting act. She doesn’t want to believe that a Man of God could be evil. When she realizes it was him, she goes into a fantasy about attacking him, which is actually a bit humorous, as the other girls turn into kuroko, and aide her in a kung fu-inspired martial arts fight. In the end, Sam pulls out a tiny pocket knife, barely big enough to clean the dirt from under your nails, to confront their abuser.
As the girls wrestle with the knowledge of what is going on, they begin to reveal more about themselves and their past pain. When Kyung-Hwa confronts Mimi about not “following” her on social media, we find out about her eating disorder and what it likely stemmed from. Each one tells her story. Through it all, they become stronger internally, and become each other’s allies. They all have revenge fantasies, but in the end they are rooted in the reality of the situation, their vulnerability as young women on a trip to a foreign country with a man they don’t trust. They also discuss the reason for the mission trip and the dark side of Thailand’s sex trafficking.
The set, designed by Sarah Bahr, is a hotel room in Bangkok, which looks like a typical teenage girls’ room with suitcases, clothes and personal effects strewn about. The lighting, designed by Wu Chen Khoo, is critical in creating atmosphere and helping the audience focus on the action. It also helps with transitions from the reality of their conversations to the fight scene fantasies (expertly choreographed by Annie Enneking). Sound designer and composer Katharine Horowitz also sets the mood, especially in the final scene as they are silently packing up to leave. Katie Bradley’s mainstage directorial debut is an overwhelming success. The actors portrayed these teenage girls with strong personalities, filled with angst and humor. I loved their interaction. The entire creative team deserves our standing ovation.
You can see Man of God by Theater Mu at the Mixed Blood Theater in Minneapolis, MN through March 6, 2022. Don’t wait to get your tickets, the Sunday matinee that I attended was a sold out performance. This is one to experience live, in person (Mu’s first since before the pandemic started), and bring a friend. You’ll want to discuss it afterwards.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt: When have you experienced a breach of trust, or loss of innocence? Was someone there to help you through it?
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That’s a tough place to be in. Proof all humans are flawed creatures and can fail big time. I’m curious how they resolved the breach of trust.