Diana Nguyen dances onto the stage, resplendent in a velvet jumpsuit, with the confidence of a good host and the cheekiness of a naughty kid. This is an appealing combination and immediately puts an audience at ease – though she keeps the front row on their toes with some good-natured, flirty teasing.
The show has very little to do with Keanu Reeves of course, though Diana has some fun with an array of Keanu fan paraphernalia including life-size cardboard cut-outs. It’s more to do with the chasing of something – ambition, success, love, sex, self-acceptance – in the shadow of a pandemic that hit the pause button on so many things and forced us to reckon with ourselves. At least, that’s the story Diana tells and it feels universal. And while she opens the door to her introspection and the journey she has been on over the last two years, she does so with wit and earthy humour.
Warning us at the outset, with a twinkle in her eye, that the show contains racial and sexual themes, Diana embraces and extracts comedy from her Vietnamese-Australianness, her sexuality, her experience as an actor being typecast in a variety of ‘Asian’ roles, and her realisation of the incredible strength and self-possession of her mother. Diana invites us into her world and shares her joy and some personal truths which make us think a bit and laugh a lot.
This is an assured, funny, well-paced show from an intelligent, charismatic performer. Diana Nguyen is a force to be reckoned with.
Christina is a writer, actor and theatre-maker who loves Melbourne and is just delighted to see it buzzing with live entertainment again.