George Takei's Allegiance ★★★★ Charing Cross Theatre | Jan 7 - Apr 8, 2023

George Takei's Allegiance deals with a dark time in American history and raises some questions about today's political environment. Referencing the treatment of Takei's own family, it looks at the policy of incarcerating Japanese Americans during WWII. Property confiscated and deprived of their liberty, members of the community were moved into camps where their treatment was often worse than that accorded prisoners of war. They were then offered a choice which was really a cruel catch-22: protest this unfair policy, refuse to fight in the war and be branded a traitor, or fight in the war, prove one's patriotism and be put in an all-Japanese American company that is assigned to suicide missions. The choice divided families and the wounds often never healed. Young Sammy Kimura (Telly Leung) decides to assert his independence and demonstrate his allegiance to country by making the latter choice. He thus becomes estranged from his sister Kei (Aynrand Ferrer) who, since their mother died, has raised him and supported their father. Both actors put in strong performances. Leung is completely convincing as the impetuous and insecure uber-patriot, and Ferrer is wistfully affecting as the young woman whose allegiance has been given to the family before herself. For us, Ferrer's rendition of "Higher" and her duet, "Stronger than Before" with Hannah (Megan Gardiner) were high points. Indeed, the whole show has an engaging score, and songs like "Wishes on the Wind" and "Ishi Kara Ishi" have immediate appeal. Kudos must also be given to Iverson Yabut who plays the morally ambiguous Mike Masaoka. His frantic political machinations are counterpointed by the serenity of George Takei's Ojii-Chan who quietly makes a desert bloom. Indeed, Takei does a splendid job of exuding the spirit of "gaman" that can reconcile the play's polarities and transcend the environment of competing allegiances. It is refreshing to see a musical which tackles morally complex issues and which focuses on more than romantic relationships. George Takei's Allegiance is an entertaining and relevant addition to the London theatre scene.

Rated: ★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Danny Kaan.

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