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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 21, 2003

'Road Movie' illuminating, with mature star in control

By Joseph T. Rozmiarek
Advertiser Drama Critic

"Road Movie," playing at Paliku Theatre on the Windward Community College campus through Sunday, offers two opportunities.

'Road Movie'

When: 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: Paliku Theatre, Windward Community College

Cost: $20

Information: 526-4400, 235-7311

The first is to experience the performance for the first time or to have another go at the show that played here in 1995. The second is for a drop-in look at the evolution of an actor.

Written by Godfrey Hamilton and performed by former Hawai'i resident Mark Pinkosh, and marking the 20th anniversary of their Starving Artists theater company, "Road Movie " outlines a journey and a quest. Joel, the central character, is making a cross-country road trip, returning to his new lover Scott; driven by the ache to find the part of himself he needs to fill. "Trust only movement " is the spoken refrain, as if pausing might bring fatal pain.

Joel is a New York-based advertising executive, pulled out of a gutter after a drugs-and-sex binge and coaxed out of his self-loathing on a cradling Sausalito houseboat. But Joel denies Scott's pleading to stay in California and returns to the East Coast, only to begin a return pilgrimage.

On the road, he first visits the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., vividly evoked in Hamilton's imagery as the marble wings of a giant black bird that crashed to Earth. Here, he compares his sorrow for friends lost to AIDS, finding memory quilts to be a poor memorial and demands a cure and a return of the lost.

Moving again, Joel briefly encounters three women, each of whom has experienced a grief parallel to his own. In Atlanta, a woman remembers her dead son by nightly passing out condoms to gay men under the shadow of a bridge. Mid-country, he talks with a prim schoolteacher who has lost a daughter to suicide. Back in California he meets Scott's distracted sister, who wears a metal piercing for each dead friend — the last in memory of her brother.

Hamilton's words paint vivid pictures, and Pinkosh plays all five characters during 90 minutes of nonstop dialogue.

Hawai'i viewers who have witnessed Pinkosh's 20-year career can at last stop thinking of him as a wunderkind, and this review will be the last that points out he's not a kid any more. Still rail thin, the elusive hairline has given way to a fully shaved head, and a new moustache and chin hair unmistakably signal full maturity.

The naiveté is gone and the perception that each line is a new discovery has given way to the sense that each line has been mastered. Pinkosh now controls the dialogue instead of being driven by it. Audience attention shifts to the quicksilver physical performance.

He creates distinct characters in these self-conversations with excellent vocal and physical shadings. Body language is exquisite: The women's hands flutter like butterflies, manipulate like traffic cops, nervously count earrings as if they were rosary beads, and lie in their laps like dead things.

A reversed chair becomes the dashboard of a car and the utilitarian act of moving it to a new scene is thoughtful and moodily expressive. Body language becomes a dance, a challenge or a writhing release to physical lust.

His audience connection is furtive, brave, intimate and real.

"Road Movie" may not mesh with a mainstream philosophy, but it does not fail to illuminate.

Correction: "Road Movie" will be shown at Windward Community College's Paliku Theatre at 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday. There is no Sunday program. Incorrect information was given in a previous version of this story.