Pan Asian Rep Presents NO NO BOY

Article by Pui See Tsang
Photo credit by John Quincy Lee

Adapted from the groundbreaking novel by John Okada, NO-NO BOY follows draft resister Ichiro Yamada as he returns to Seattle following his release from prison. Ken Narasaki’s vivid adaptation depicts Ichiro’s search for resolution among family, friends, and a community in transition following the resettlement of Japanese Americans on the West Coast after the war. NO-NO BOY has its New York Premiere directed by Ron Nakahara and the play is presented by Pan Asian Repertory Theater.

During its 90 minutes, the audience follows Ichiro Yamada (Chris Doi) as he tries to put his life back together post-internment, in 1946. The parents, Ma (Karen Tsen Lee) and Pa (Glenn Kubota) define this journey. Friends pop up along the way – Kenji Kanno (Whit K. Lee) and Freddie Akimoto (Hansel Tan) – and serve to fill Ichiro in on the status of others they all collectively knew. It is through Kenji that Ichiro meets Emi (Kimiye Corwin) and learns to rebuild and see past the craziness.

The female actors of the cast are incredibly outstanding and they all totally portrayed the women of the era of Japanese internment. Of this ensemble cast, Karen Tsen Lee’s Ma especially stands out who plays a strong mom and refuses to believe Japan has lost and when forced to confront reality ends her life.

The Pan Asian Repertory has done it again and the show we saw was a complete sold out. We are truly impressed by the high standard of the great cast and the smart usage of the set design. All the actors have done an amazing job and bring us a lot of emotions even after we stepped out from the theater. We highly recommend to see the play as this insightful is truly thought provoking and captures a time in our history of the internment and resettlement eras, a dark and misunderstood aspect of recent American history that some still want to remain buried.

Ron Nakahara, Tamio Spiegel


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