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George Takei – Star Trek’s Mr Sulu – has a ready-made global audience. Not surprisingly, the 85-year-old veteran is greeted with spontaneous applause the moment he appears on stage as his alter ego Sam Kimura. He also plays his own grandfather in this earnest musical detailing his early life and the deprivations suffered by his family during the Second World War.
As the teenage Kimura in 1941, Telly Leung is full-voiced and unbending in his allegiance to the US flag, determined to prove his loyalty as an American citizen by volunteering for the US Army in spite of objections from his family who are treated as POWs in their own country.
Stuffed with generic show ballads and swing jazz numbers, plus two Japanese-influenced folk songs, the show wears its heart conspicuously on its sleeve.
Snatches of humour balance tragic events but it never reaches deep enough inside the heart and soul of the characters to move us as it should. Takei is a substantial presence, however, and the performances of the largely Japanese cast are engaging throughout.
Ultimately, it is an expiation of guilt arising from blind allegiance to his birth country and the effect on his family as well as a history lesson on the injustice of white Americans who leapt too quickly to bigotry and blame.
- Charing Cross Theatre until April 8. Tickets: 08444 930 650.
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