I love autobiographical solo performances, or, in the case of Threads, biographical solo performances. Tonya Jone Miller’s play is based on her mother’s experiences in Viet Nam in the late 60s.
It’s a fascinating story. We often hear about ‘GI babies’, the children of Vietnamese women and foreign servicemen but in Tonya’s case her mother is American and her father was Vietnamese, very unusual for the time.
The play follows Donna Miller’s life from her high school graduation in 1962 through college in Michigan, California and Hawaii to Saigon as an English teacher, back to the States, back to Saigon to try and get her in-laws out of Viet Nam.
She meets and marries a US submariner and moves around the country with him, all the while continuing her education. They divorce.
She becomes involved with a fellow student at college in Hawaii and goes to Viet Nam and stays with him and his family in Saigon while teaching English and also volunteering at an orphanage.The war was going on while she was in Saigon and she talks about the normalcy of life even in the middle of a war.
In 1975 when she was eight months pregnant with Tonya she went back to Saigon to try and get her in-laws out of Viet Nam. She ended up having to get out herself and it’s a hair-raising tale. Donna Miller was a very brave woman.
Woven through this was the story of her brother Chuck who served in Viet Nam. I think that it deserves its own play. It’s definitely a story that stands on its own.
Tonya gives a strong performance as Donna. I wonder if it feels strange to play your mother.
My one quibble is that the story isn’t linear. It moves back and forth in time and, at timers, I didn’t know what year it was or where Donna was. It’s possible that I’m a linear kind of gal. I enjoyed the show. Some of it is funny and some of it is sad. It certainly brought tears to my eyes a couple of times. I am a bit slow sometimes, it took me until halfway through writing this to realize the significance of the title of the play.
The audience loved the show and gave Tonya a standing ovation.
This was the second show I saw on Wednesday and it was also sold out. The Tarragon Solo Space is quite small so arrive early to get tickets.
- Threads is playing at the Tarragon Theatre Solo Room (30 Bridgman Ave)
- Performances times are:
- July 05 10:00 PM
- July 06 08:30 PM
- July 08 04:00 PM
- July 09 06:45 PM
- July 11 09:45 PM
- July 12 05:15 PM
- July 13 04:30 PM
- All individual Fringe tickets are $10 ($5 for FringeKids) at the door (cash only) and go on sale one hour before showtime. 50% of tickets are available in advance and are $11 ($9 + $2 service charge), these can be purchased online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062 ext. 1, or in person during the festival at the Festival Box Office in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor St W).
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows
Please note that there is absolutely no latecomer seating during the Toronto Fringe Festival.
Photo of Tonya Jone Miller by Rene Ferrer