Vietnam…through my lens:The Dorothy Strelsin Theatre

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NY Theater Review by Susan Hasho

Written and performed by Stu Richel, Vietnam…through my lens is not what one would expect of a war story. It might seem that an account of war would be deeply personal and probably painful, but Stu Richel tells his story from an observer’s distance with a correspondent’s measured calm. After law school in 1967, he entered basic training in Columbia, S.C and became a clerk. He arrived in Vietnam and worked in the public information office. He became a combat correspondent writing and taking snapshots; and asked not to hang back at a desk but requested to be sent to the front lines. And there is no further mention of war. He speaks of contributing to a Bill Geist 60-Minute piece, living in San Jose and ending up in Greenwich Village in New York City where he became an actor.

He is a man telling a story, not a lot of drama. He spoke of a group of vets he hangs out with at a restaurant named Florios and of one of the owners who was good to vets; and of Father Divine who ministered to Vietnam vets with compassion and grace no matter what religious affiliation, or none. Stu Richel remains connected to his experience by being connected to vets.

His stated intention is to understand what his war experience has made of him, how it has affected his life. But as the evening goes on, what becomes interesting is that he is not an actor delivering a monologue, he is telling a personal story to work through the results of his war experience without expressing many of the emotional effects that this experience had on him. It seems his way of analyzing his experience is also his way of overcoming it—with detachment. You can hardly blame him for that, but it doesn’t make for personal revelation or much theatricality. It was like hearing a lecture from a very nice man, who remained, by the end of the evening, at arm’s distance. You like him, but you don’t know him.

Dorothy Strelsin Theatre

312 W 36th St, New York, NY 10018

For tickets call: (866) 811-4111 www.vietnamthroughmylens.com

Performances of VIETNAM…through my lens through November 23

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