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Photo Source: Lauren Rayner
In "disOriented," playwright Kyoung H. Park examines the trials of the Korean immigrant in America: someone literally torn between the hard old life in Korea and the precarious new one in America. His protagonist is a woman caught between these two worlds, both of which are laden with problems. Park throws a welcome spotlight on this little-considered aspect of American immigrant life, whose details are interesting to learn. Well, initially they are, but the telling of this tale of woe proves to be heavy-handed, with the dialogue often awash in soapy clichés. Nor is the play helped by its format of going back and forth between present and past; these explanatory flashbacks result in a story that moves forward slowly, in fits and starts.

In New York, Ju Yeon (Amy Kim Waschke) runs a Korean restaurant with her husband, Dae Young (Talym Jinn Kim), but it's hardly breaking even. They have two sons. The elder, Young Jun (Daniel K. Isaac), wants to be an artist, while the younger, Jong Woo (Julian Leong), is a teenage rebel devoted to video games. The family is joined by Dong Hee (Ariel Estrada), Ju Yeon's newly arrived, pleasure-loving brother. Meanwhile, in Seoul, we meet Ju Yeon's parents, Ouihalmoni (Virginia Wing) and Ouiharaboji (Bert Matias). Her mother is disabled but very spirited, while her father is a gambler and a male chauvinist. When Dong Hee suddenly dies, their daughter decides to return her brother's ashes to Korea, realizing that she must attempt to reconcile her two conflicting worlds.

On display on both sides of the ocean is the dysfunctional family, Korean style. In New York, Ju Yeon is beaten by her hard-working husband, while one son is a closeted gay and the other a rebel without a pause. And Ju Yeon suffers from trying to put a rosy gloss on her disintegrating life, haunted by a daughter who died at birth. In Seoul, her father constantly berates her mother and steals his wife's meager money. Yes, the troubles come not singly but in battalions.

Ju Yeon is the play's only fully developed character, and Waschke struggles bravely to present her contradictory facets. Both Isaac and Leong do well with youthful angst, but it's Yanghee (Kyungja) Lee, as a traditional Korean dancing chorus and possibly the spirit of the dead daughter, who is a most welcome presence. Twirling in red and gold, snapping her red fan, she is a touch of warm color in a cold, cruel world.

Presented by Theatre C at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater, 416 W. 42nd St., NYC. Feb. 16–March 5. Thu.–Sat., 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 3 p.m.; Sun., 4 p.m. (212) 279-4200 or www.ticketcentral.com. Casting by Michael Cassara.