Entertainment » Theatre

See You Yesterday

Monday May 20, 2019
A scene from "See You Tomorrow."Yesterday
A scene from "See You Tomorrow."Yesterday  

ArtsEmerson is never one to shy away from tough subject matter. Their recent production "See You Yesterday" is a rumination on the rarely discussed atrocities of the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia during the 1970s.

Khmer Rouge, formally known as the Communist Party of Kampuchea or CPK, ruled Cambodia from 1975-1979. It was a highly autocratic and violent regime. In those four years, they killed approximately 25% of the population and left a terribly scarred country.

The Global Arts Corps, whose goal is to bring together performers from opposite sides of major conflicts as a form of healing, has assembled a group of nineteen-second generation survivors of the genocide to create "See You Tomorrow."

This short hour-long work is a combination of physical theater, dance, and circus. And while stating that it is based upon fragmented stories and memories, the end result is a bit too fragmented. It almost feels like two entirely different shows.

The successful and extremely powerful parts of the show are the sections of physical theater that have a clear narrative. Such as the representation of the forced evacuation of the cities and the resulting agricultural labor camps. Or those attempting to escape through the jungles.

But these moments are broken up by extended sections of circus acts that don't seem to have any narrative connection. You begin to forget that you are supposed to watching a show about Khmer Rouge and not just a group of talented circus performers. And with very little English dialogue and no supertitles, there is nothing to help guide you.

The intent of the production is important and needed. This part of history has long been ignored, especially in the West. But there is some elusive "thing" missing to bring all the pieces together.

All shows shoot for the stars, and some fall a little short. That does not mean we should not still applaud the effort.

"See You Yesterday" played May 16 — 19 at the Emerson Paramount Center, Robert J. Orchard Stage, 559 Washington Street, Boston, MA. For more information about upcoming ArtsEmerson shows,, visit their website.

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