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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Show has squiggling DNA, little substance

By Jospeh T. Rozniarek
Advertiser Drama Critic

'This is My House'

Earle Ernst Lab Theatre, UH-Manoa

11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

$8 general; $7 non-UHM students, seniors, military, UH faculty/staff; $3 UHM students


As performance pieces go, this one is pretty tame.

The cast squiggles around on the stage floor to represent pre-fertilization sperm and eggs. There's a stand-up dialogue between a couple of strands of DNA — "He doesn't get that from my side of the family!" And a couple of homosexual kisses.

But "This Is My House" discusses the idea of family. Not the Beaver Cleaver traditional marriage between one man and one woman with legitimized genetic offspring, but the politically correct and dictionary-driven definition of a collection of mutually supportive, cohabiting, like-minded individuals.

The show was conceived and written by Carolyn Covalt and Jennifer Bolieu, based on interviews and discussions. Covalt is part of the ensemble and Bolieu directs. The Hawaiian 'ohana gets special feature with a haku mele by Anne Lokomaika'i Lipscomb.

After some pre-show party games and actor warmups, after the squiggly sperms and talking DNA, the show settles down to what it does best: some deeply felt monologues on the nature of parenthood.

A would-be single dad proclaims that fathership is not a matter of biology, but the ability to love. A woman decides not to have children because she won't make promises to the unborn that she feels unable to keep.

An estranged father has a difficult conversation with a daughter he rarely sees, and a woman struggles to keep from her adult daughter that giving birth to her was her worst mistake — that she should have kept her shortcomings to herself and not imposed them on her child.

The show's forays into comic skits are less successful.

A parallel dialogue between heterosexual and homosexual couples gets some laughs. The woman becomes a bride; the man becomes a domestic partner. One couple goes to the hospital for a baby; the other couple goes to the airport.

A long piece based on the television game show "Family Feud" is a bit jumbled and garbled while not making much of a point or adding to the show.

Relationships will be dysfunctional or nurturing regardless of genetic ties, and there's a lot more to be said about supportive families — whatever their particular makeup — than is touched on in the one hour that this piece runs.

Unfortunately, "This Is My House" never gets around to fully exploring the real issues of what nurturing looks like and how to achieve it.