Come this way as Tom Holowach (Paliku Theatre manager) in a superb turn as Narrator guides you through The Good Doctor, a string of sketches in which you meet the oddest characters. If you were solely to read the script, you’d be hard put to picture what kind of world these sketches take place in. In Joyce Maltby’s take on Neil Simon’s summoning of Chekhov, the characters’ look, their conversation, their actions are decidedly quirky, and yet it’s all done with such finesse that even amid the absurdity playing out on stage, there’s a tender warmth to the characters. Hilarity is intermingled with such provocative moments that you feel nostalgic for people you’ve never met and places you’ve never been.
We can all relate to the Sneezer (an amazing David Starr in one of several roles), whose mind gets carried away over-interpreting an embarrassing moment. In The Seduction … well, when does a seduction ever not intrigue, and Holowach, Sara Cate Langham and Jakob Grube Madsen embark on this one with absorbing eloquence. It’s so easy to rave about this play, about the sharp wit that sneaks under your skin and anchors itself in there, all in the guise of comedy. Take for instance, Julia Ubrankovics as the Girl in The Audition. Her humble clothing belies her sparkling-eyed beauty as she delivers her riveting monologue, conveying so much with such subtlety. At the same time you feel touched to the heart and want to dab at a tear, it’s also quite funny. As is the guy who wants to drown himself, or the eccentric lady who creates an unholy ruckus at the bank, or the two old men who meet up occasionally to argue with such intricate deliciousness that they stir up quite an appetizing menu. Then there’s the lad, gangly and awkward, conflicted about living up to his father’s expectations that he become a man. As outrageous as these characters and situations are, they’re familiar and satisfying, and you find yourself wanting to linger around them for as long as possible.
the TICKET stub
THE GOOD DOCTOR
When: Nov. 15-18, 21, 23-25, 29-30 and Dec. 1-2. Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 4 p.m.
Where: HPU’s Paul and Vi Loo Theatre
More Info: 375-1282 or hpu.edu/theatre
There’s an unobtrusive little gem of a theater downtown called Kumu Kahua. You know that classroom assignment, If I Were King For a Day … well, I finally know what measure I’d implement. I’d make it mandatory for Hawaii residents and tourists alike to watch the plays in that quaint, historic space. But that would defeat the idea of it being a rich, enjoyable cultural experience. The latest offering, the premiere of Fishing For Wives, is written by local multiple award-winning scriptwriter Edward Sakamoto and is teeming with local themes from the early 1900s when lonely island laborers would write home for picture bride wives. No other theater on the island offers this kind of intimate, relevant subject matter, and with such expertise.
The masterful use of space involves a simple, elegant stage set with Japanese-inspired paintings that the actors shift to convey changing location. It’s a mischievous little production that probes gender issues (yes, more than a few members of the audience gasped quite audibly now and then at some of the naughty shenanigans that ensue, and they laughed their hearts out too) as two celibate fisherman get entangled with wives sent over from Japan. There’s the handsome fisherman – Justin Fragiao as Aoki, and the one that looks like “the backside of an ox” – a thoroughly entertaining Daniel Nishida as Nishi. And the talent of the two ladies is phenomenal – Britni “Lolli” Keltz in her versatility playing three different wives to Aoki and performing a captivating kabuki dance to boot, and then Michelle Hunter as Nishi’s wife, with comic timing and facial expressions that just reel in the house.
Fishing for Wives took a few minutes to win me over, but by the time the kimono-clad ladies enter the picture, it’s unusual, exciting, ingenious and even borrows a page from the obake tradition. It plays through Dec. 9 at $5-$20 per seat. Call 536-4222 or visit kumukahua.org.