THE SAPPY CRITIC
BY KIRK SHEPPARD
JUN 3, 2023
FRINGE: Made in America is Both Heartwrenching and Heartwarming
“I wanted to rush the stage to protect and hug actress Teruko Nakajima”
As a therapist, I’m relatively accustomed to hearing people relive their trauma stories. Unfortunately, in twenty years of practice, I’ve heard a lot. And while it’s certainly not a competition, I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a story quite like the one told in “Made in America.”
Teruko Nakajima, a Japanese-American, shares her life story with us – and it’s a doozy. She talks about domestic violence, sexual assault, and suicidality. She talks about the intense shame that a life full of this kind of abuse will heap on a person.
But she does so in a colorful and hilarious way that will both break and warm your heart.
I had a boss who used to tell me when I would get frustrated with things that I was a "lightning bug surrounded by earthworms,” and it was “my job to light their way.” Teruko (along with her dog, Titi) is the ultimate lightning bug; she lights up every room she walks into with a magical amount of charisma. I’ve often pondered why it is that so many people who have copious amounts of attractive energy also have horrific trauma in their past. Is it the universe’s gift to them for having endured so much abuse? Were they targeted because of their radiating aura? I don’t know, but this production affirms that I’m on to something.
This is not a show for those easily triggered. In fact, I cried more than once. I just wanted to turn back the clock to protect this sweet, innocent, and lovely person from all the harm.
This is definitely a show that those who can tolerate such shocking content should see because the resilience and hopefulness and pure joy that comes from Ms. Nakajima is something I’m not sure I could ever get enough of.
“Made in America” has the following remaining show times:
Wednesday 6/7 @ 7 PM
Friday 6/9 @ 8:45 PM
Saturday 6/10 @ 8:45 PM
Thursday 6/15 @ 8:45 PM
Friday 6/16 @ 7 PM