Demonstrating once again its dedication to multicultural theater, Glendale's Luna Playhouse presents a fairly successful set of Japanese one-acts billed as "Two Plays by
It's an intriguing evening for which the only real complaint lies in the productions' pacing.
Playwright Yushio Mishima's works "Hanjo" and "The Lady Aoi" bookend the performance with a pair of traditional Japanese interludes serving as a short supporting program.
In "Hanjo," a struggling artist played by Hiroko Imai obsesses over her live-in model as the characters' true back-story is revealed.
Her kimono-clad model, played by Kazumi Zatkin, is a mentally disturbed former geisha pining for a long-lost client.
When the object of her desire, played with stoic strength by Yutaka Takeuchi, arrives to reclaim her, it's apparent that this triangle of unrequited love will remain forever unresolved.
Aramazd Stepanian directs this piece clearly paying attention to details. Movement is minimal, and two handheld fans play an important part in the storyline.
The only quibble might be the sluggish pacing.
"Oboro-Zukiyo," a traditional song arranged by Mika Nakashima, was performed in its original language with delicate physicality by actress Mika Santoh.
Rounding out the first act is "Hana-Ko," a short comic or Kyogen (literally meaning "mad words" or "wild speech")-style play reminiscent of Aesop's Fables.
A cuckolding master, played by Ed Refuerzo, orders his servant, played by the piece's director, Toshi Tada, to take his place during a prolonged meditational session so that he can visit his mistress.
The master's wife, played to comic perfection by the aforementioned Zatkin, discovers the plot, takes the place of the whimpering valet and deliciously turns the table on her husband.
Following the intermission, Act II consists entirely of Mishima's work titled "The Lady Aoi."
Based on the centuries-old style of Noh or Nogaku plays, it's a supernatural story of a hospitalized woman tortured by the disembodied spirit of her husband's ex-lover.
Also helmed by Tada, actors Toshiya Agata and Fay Koto, respectively playing the husband and the spurned spirit, shoulder the lion's share of this script.
Koto is particularly watchable as she becomes increasingly frantic in her attempts to win back her lost lover.
Agata, on the other hand, stumbled through a great deal of his dialogue while repeatedly miming the lighting of cigarettes, a distractingly out-of-place action given the hospital room setting.
Though a somewhat uneven offering, this bill of productions provides an interesting insight into the world of an Americanized Japanese art form.
DINK O'NEAL, an actor and member of the American Theatre Critics Assn., lives in
What: "Two Plays by Yukio Mishima"
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday through Aug. 1.
Where: Luna Playhouse, 3706 San Fernando Road, Glendale.
Tickets: $10 to $15.
Contact: (818) 500-7200 or http://www.itsmyseat.com.