Friday, April 20, 2018

Return to the Scene of the Crime: ☼ ☼ ☼ BANG

It is a shame that the Marsh put David Kleinberg's "Return to the Scene of the Crime" into their upstairs, smaller room. We understand, however. Brilliant as this show is, and Kleinberg is the kind of performer who makes you believe every word he says, Vietnam is slowly being forgotten as those who remember or participated in that struggle age and disappear. Kleinberg says his audiences are mostly Anti-War people who remember how divisive and life-changing just the word "Vietnam" was for them and everyone they knew. This is apparently translating to smaller audiences as time goes on.

And it's a real shame. We loved this show. David Kleinberg is a natural performer without a fake bone in his body. This is not a tale about the glory of war nor its pointlessness. It is, instead, a simple story told with sincerity by the man who lived it.

Kleinberg's previous show, "Hey, Hey, LBJ," which we saw two years ago, is the precursor to the current piece. Fifty years after the photo above was taken, when Kleinberg was a field correspondent in Cu Chi, Vietnam, he returns to Vietnam in 2017 to attempt to perform "Hey, Hey" for the Vietnamese people. "Return to the Scene of the Crime" details the bureaucratic and political difficulties he has to overcome in order to be allowed to perform his show.

 We love the way he takes us backwards and forwards in time, as he is reminded of battles in which several of his fellow soldiers were killed, and then brings us to the present where we meet the survivors and children of those soldiers, with whom Kleinberg is still in communication. In 2017, his wife and daughter are texting him, reminding him he could be jailed or worse. They beg him to get on the next plane and come home. He couldn't do that in 1967 and he can't do it now.

The story is fascinating but the best part is David himself. For soldiers on the field of battle, everyone's experience is different. It doesn't matter whether they agree with what they are being asked to do or not. Bonds are formed that can never be broken. Thankfully, David Kleinberg survived to tell us the tale.


The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division gives "Return to the Scene of the Crime" Three Stars with a BANGLE OF PRAISE for the way the performer understands and communicates with his audience. We are sure we will see more of David Kleinberg.

 "Return to the Scene of the Crime"
The Marsh
1062 Valencia Street
San Francisco

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