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By Dave Donnelly

Friday, March 9, 2001

London trip

WRAPPING up my theater-going excursion to London, I realized how many plays on view there are Irish. One of the best was Irish playwright Marie Jones' "Stones in His Pockets." It's a show with but two actors, one of whom in the original cast won the Olivier Award for best actor in a comedy, Mug shotand the other was also nominated. Louis Dempsey and Sean Sloan are now the cast, portraying two extras in an American movie being filmed in County Kerry. They also portray 15 others on the scene. The play won the best comedy award at the 2001 Oliviers ... Speaking of the awards, Stephen Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along" was written in 1981, and just qualified as "Best New Musical," having never before been presented on London's West End, Blighty's Broadway. It was a sparse production, but still beat out Andrew Lloyd Webber's more elaborate "The Beautiful Game," "Fosse" and "The Witches of Eastwick" ...

THE final show I took in was Simon Gray's latest, "Japes," about two brothers and their love for the same woman, the wife of one of them. The venerable Peter Hall directed the work at the Haymarket Theater. I saw and loved Gray's "Otherwise Engaged" 25 years ago in London, directed by Harold Pinter and starring Sir Michael Gambon, who had replaced Alan Bates in the lead role. I've tried to convince several local groups to do "Otherwise Engaged," but for some reason all were reluctant, despite its being named best play by the London Evening Standard the year it came out. "Japes," too, was effective theater ...

Fitting right in

AT some point during each day, the feet hurt, the legs are sore and the theaters dark. I found myself one day in Brown's, a restaurant on St. Martin's Lane in the theater district. There I found a nice table facing the entrance where I lit up a Cuban cigar and enjoyed a couple of Clausthaler's, the best nonalcoholic brew made. It was such a pleasing experience, and the young, blonde waitress there so personable that I returned the next day for more of the same. When I came in on Day Three and lit up my cigar, the waitress came over and said, "The usual, sir?" I loved it -- I was a regular already ... Similarly, I called for a mini-cab from the home of my hosts, Sheridan Morley and his wife, Ruth Leon, using a number she'd given me. When I called for the third time, which seems to be the charm in England, the mini-cab dispatcher said, "Would that be Mr. Donnelly?" "Yes, my good man." Easy to fall into that scheme of things ...

City by the Bay revisited

IT was nice having a layover in S.F. before returning home, though a couple of locals got in their final licks on my disaster predelictions by asking, "You didn't fly in through Seattle, did you?" ... I saw two plays in S.F. One was "Howie the Rookie," featuring two young Dublin men each with a single monologue. It began its run in London before proceeding on to New York and S.F....Oh yes, I also saw Rita Moreno, Vicki Lawrence and Margo Gomez in Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues." It'll be interesting to see how it goes over in Hawaii, especially the scene in which Moreno goes on and on about the crudest of street terminology, and then leads the audience in a chant beginning, "Give me a "C'." A huge success in liberal S.F., but here? We'll see ...

ON Monday we'll return to news of Hawaii, a bit of what's happened in my absence and a lot of what's coming up. And believe me, a lot is. Please come back ...

Dave Donnelly has been writing on happenings
in Hawaii for the Star-Bulletin since 1968.
His columns run Monday through Friday.

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