Review: ONCE MORE, JUST FOR YOU At Seattle Public Theater

If you had the chance to go back in time, what would you change?

By: Feb. 19, 2024
Review: ONCE MORE, JUST FOR YOU At Seattle Public Theater
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Review: ONCE MORE, JUST FOR YOU At Seattle Public Theater
Ina Chang and Pearl Lam in Once More, Just for You
 
at Seattle Public Theater. Photo Credit: Joe Iano

Seattle Public Theater is currently hosting the world premiere of Maggie Lee’s play, Once More, Just For You, directed by Amy Poisson. With a three-person cast and a homemade time travel machine, this show could be of particular interest to Seattle’s sci-fi fans. 

The play tells the story of Rae (Ina Chang), a woman battling feelings of guilt, longing, and rage who jumps through time, intending to make one thing right, no matter the present-day consequences. Rae is aided by Sloane (Belinda Fu), her assistant who wields some memorable one-liners. The journey is filled with desperation and moments of comfort that make you think about what you would change if given the chance.

The show features Ina Chang (Rae), Belinda Fu (Sloane), and Pearl Lam (Yoori) on a set that splits the timeline in two, juxtaposing the past and present to an extreme. Scenic designer Parmida Ziaei expertly captured the different time-travel destinations, paying attention to the little details and offering a cluttered, busy mess on one side, with a respectable and clean room on the other. With the help of lighting designer Dani Norberg, it felt as though we were time-traveling alongside Rae as the lights flashed all around the theater.

Maggie Lee’s writing is the star of this show. Her ability to delicately navigate such major and relevant themes through humor makes for a multi-dimensional journey. She crafts three extremely complex characters, allowing us only to scratch the surface of understanding them until the latter half of the show. 

At some points, it felt as though we were waiting for the performances to match the power of Lee’s words, but when they did, it was electric.

Review: ONCE MORE, JUST FOR YOU At Seattle Public Theater
Ina Chang and Belinda Fu in Once More, Just for You
 
at Seattle Public Theater. Photo Credit: Joe Iano

Belinda Fu delivered a heartbreaking and character-explaining monologue that unlocked a whole side of Sloane I wish we saw throughout the entire show. While this was the biggest highlight for Fu, a lot can be said about her one-liners that always earned a laugh from the audience. 

Ina Chang’s portrayal of Rae, who juggled two timelines on little to no food and water, kept me on my toes with dynamic and varying character choices scene by scene. Her moments of indisputable need delivered by a pleading voice sent chills down my spine. Being on stage non-stop is mentally and physically exhausting, even when you’re not going through a nausea-inducing time machine. Chang’s stamina is impressive and paints the true picture of the commendable person that Rae is.

Pearl Lam plays the timid Yoori who serenades us with some beautiful piano playing. In their bio, Lam details their extensive improv comedy experience. It was intriguing to see them portray a character so reserved and proves the multi-faceted talents of this actor.

Though the caliber of performances didn’t always meet the power of the script, the show was still extremely enjoyable, emotional, and reflective. Lee’s script was captivating, it’s not easy to craft a show that leaves every audience member thinking “What would I do in this situation?” while truly searching to find the answer.

Once More, Just for You runs from now until February 25 at Seattle Public Theater. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit: www.seattlepublictheater.org/




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