Orange County Theatre Reviews

Written by Daniella Litvak 

A Piece Of My Heart takes its title from a Janis Joplin song of the same name.  It effectively describes the price the featured group of women paid for their service during the Vietnam War.

Martha (Mary Price Moore), MaryJo (Victoria Serra), Sissy (Sarah McGuire), Whitney (Mia Anderson) LeeAn (Katie May Porter), and Steele (Angela) came from all over the United States and led very different lives. What they have in common is getting sucked into Vietnam. Most of them were nurses.  Steele was an intelligence officer.  MaryJo fronted a music group, performing for GIs at USO shows. David Rodriguez plays the various American Men they encountered.  As the Musician, Mark Tillman provides musical and thematic accompaniment. 

Based off true stories, A Piece Of My Heart is a gripping tale about going to war and surviving it.  All six women experienced some unexpected joys during their time in Vietnam and endured horror and tragedy during and after the war. The play isn’t shy about discussing hard topics such as amputation and sexual assault.  There are some lighthearted moments, but most of the focus is on the brutal realities each character has to deal with.  If you have some passing familiarity about the Vietnam War, then you may already know something about topics such as The Tet Offensive or Agent Orange.  What A Piece Of My Heart is particularly effective at is making the horrors we’ve read or or heard about previously personal.

In addition to the characters listed in the program, the actresses take on the roles of several bit parts: the main characters’ supervisors, friends, and so on.  It can get a little confusing because there are times when it’s uncertain what character the actress is playing, especially since there aren’t very many costume changes, and we’re mostly dependent on tone and body language to figure it out.   

For the most part, each storyline is discrete.  This really isn’t one play but more like six plays being performed at once.  The drawback of choosing this style is that it does make the show lean more on telling instead of showing.  Also, the situations playing out before us can across as slightly muddled because there were times when I wasn’t sure if the characters’ storylines were intersecting or if one the actresses was playing a completely different character.

Across the board the cast does a good job.  From an acting perspective, the most challenging moments are the ones where the characters are pushed beyond their limits, and its during those times when each of the performers shine the most.  

The set design is on the more minimal side of the spectrum.  There may only be a small amount of decoration and props: posters, sandbags, and musical instruments, but what is there does a great job of explaining what the space represents.  All in all, the setup works.

GOOD SHOW! 
Review
8.3 Overall
0 Users (0 votes)
Story8
Acting8.5
Set & Design8.5
Costumes8
Entertainment8.5
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June 7th – 30,2019

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