Leaving Vietnam

Providing insight into the life of soldiers that fought for America in Vietnam, ‘Leaving Vietnam’ follows a young man from joining the Marine to his entire post-war emotional journey. 

Leaving Vietnam

Jimmy Vanderberg is a normal man. He has a nice job, a nice girl and a nice life. Everything is going well for him. But he decides to join the Marines and during his time away, perceptions back home have turned against American soldiers, and when he returns, he can't be certain that those he loves see him as a hero.  

It almost felt like the script was edging around some very interesting point on how people become disillusioned and drawn into American nationalism. But it took a long time to reach these ideas in the show and when it was actually raised, the script seemed to shy away from speaking freely about them. It only became clear at the very end of the show that Vanderberg’s wife was Black and there was only brief discussion of what this meant to the main character.  

Richard Vergette was undeniably incredible in his role, bringing to life a whole host of characters and showing the trauma that war inflicts on the minds of soldiers. Especially during the very last moments of the play, he showed how powerful the form of theatre can be with his moving performance. 

Overall, I think the show did well in tackling some difficult subject matter. Although I thought it could have been refined, it was an engaging and thoughtful exploration of one man’s relationship with war. 

Header Image Credit: Jane Hobson

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