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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 22, 2001

Stage Review
'Love 3 Times' triples pain with flawed characters, dialogue, set

By Joseph Rozmiarek
Special to The Advertiser

Dann Seki and Roselani Pelayan try to deal with a cultural gap in this comic melodrama playing at the Kumu Kahua Theatre.

John Wat

"Love 3 Times"

Kumu Kahua Theatre.

8 p.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, May 31 and June 1-2, 7-9 and 14-16; and 2 p.m. May 27 and June 3, 10 and 17.

$12 for Thursday performances; $15 for all other shows; discounts available.

Information: 536-4441.

The new play by Vilsoni Hereniko at Kumu Kahua turns out to be a low-grade, domestic comic melodrama that doesn't come close to supporting a full two-act play. Most of the characters in "Love 3 Times" are uninteresting and behave badly, spouting the sort of whining dialogue that — if it came from a neighboring table in a restaurant — we'd get up and leave.

Since it's impossible to leave the tiny Kumu Kahua Theatre without crossing the stage and elbowing past a couple of actors, anyone returning from intermission is condemned to remain for a full second act — fair punishment for a poor decision.

The play promises more than it delivers. A Pacific Island filmmaker (played by Vaikeola Richards) splits a difficult summer visit from his rebellious teenage son (cast cross-gender with Roselani Pelayan) between his native Fiji and his Honolulu home. During the first act, set in Fiji, the man's new wife (Patricia Hallmark) ceaselessly pouts about being ignored, while the boy and his father inflict painful exchanges on each other.

"Worthless father!"

"Don't disrespect me!"

Things don't improve much during Act Two, set in Honolulu, where the man indulges the boy's bad behavior with expensive gifts and the wife suffers from sexual neglect. All of them spend way too much time looking at life through a video camera. Together, they are poster material for the modern dysfunctional blended family, and they fumble along, sitcom-style, toward an inevitable, manufactured, feel-good, final bonding.

The only bright spot in this suspiciously autobiographical and self-indulgent mess is the character of the man's father, a meddling ghost, deftly created by Dann Seki.

Only the man can see the ghost, who appears at particularly difficult times to offer unwanted advice about the proper way to deal with children and wives. Seki makes him into a Polynesian poltergeist, bringing welcome humor to the action as he compounds the man's domestic troubles, then attaches himself to the family for a visit to Honolulu.

If the focus were more strongly on the man/ghost relationship, "Love 3 Times" could be a stronger play. As it stands now, Seki's character is given only a supporting role, and the domestic triangle is repetitious, annoying and banal.

This leaves director Megan Evans groping for ways to add staging interest. After a long, pantomimed prologue, she enlists Charlotte Dias to play a number of small parts, and unfortunately also pulls Seki out of character to take on additional roles. The play changes scenes so often that the cast spends an undue amount of time rearranging set pieces. Evans is so desperate for visual variety that she hangs props from lengths of twine dangling over the set. Need a telephone or a pair of athletic shoes? Just reach up and untie them.

Ultimately, the play makes us edgy, impatient and somewhat dubious about the laugh lines. "If you have any questions about sex, just send me an e-mail." There's enough reality in that line to make us truly nervous.