COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII
Find out why the komodo dragon isn't a flashy lizard in the family-friendly "Kraken-Ka the Komodo Dragon and Other Pacific Rim Dragon Tales."
Alpha dragon tales
The third time is -- once again -- the charm when it comes to plays about dragons at the University of Hawaii-Manoa. Sandra Finney explored the lives and times of the giant reptiles in imaginative style with "A Flight of Dragons" in the Ernst Lab Theatre in 2000, and James Davenport's giant celestial dragon puppet was the piece de resistance of "The Boy Who Stole the Stars" on the Kennedy Theatre Main Stage in 2002.
'Kraken-Ka the Komodo Dragon and Other Pacific Rim Dragon Tales'
Presented by the UH-Manoa Department of Theatre and Dance:
On stage: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
Place: Kennedy Theatre, UH-Manoa
Tickets: $12; with discounts for faculty, staff, seniors, military, children and students
Call: 956-7655 or visit hawaii.edu/kennedy
'MERCURY -- Science Fiction Theatre'
On stage: 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Place: Ernst Lab Theatre, UH-Manoa
Joseph D. Dodd (scenic and properties designer) builds on those precedents in magnificent fashion with the dragon that appears on the main stage in the final scene of "Kraken-Ka the Komodo Dragon and Other Pacific Rim Dragon Tales."
The production consists of three stories in which dragons of one type or another play an important part. The longest is also the one that seems most closely connected to actual Pacific Rim folklore: "Kraken-Ka" explains why the komodo dragon, a real-life carnivorous lizard that grows as along as 10 feet, is relatively dull in color. Savada J. Gilmore gives an engaging performance in the title role as an alpha carnivore with good intentions but an insatiable appetite who arouses the ire of the goddess Naga (Michelle Hurtubise).
No direct connection to Aboriginal folklore is evident in the second story as fish on Australia's Great Barrier Reef prepare for the arrival of "sea dragons." The resident predators promise the other fish that they'll drive off the dragons because, "Nobody eats our lunch but us." The "dragons" turn out to be two tiny sea horses -- one looking for friends to play with, the other hoping to audition for "Dancing with the Starfish."
Tiana DeBell and Emily Hare star as the sea horses, Gilmore returns as a dancing flounder, and Jordan "The Friendly Samoan" Savusa is a hungry Woebegone Shark.
Dodd has created a gorgeous kelp forest that provides a refuge for the tiny sea horses. Clara Bowden-Kirby, Melissa Stevens and Carolyn Wendel animate colorful reef fish puppets, and David A. Griffith (lighting) completes the sense of being under the sea.
The third story is a hodgepodge of Pacific Rim tales in which people discover almost too late that dragons play an important part in maintaining the balance of the universe. Dodd's marvelous set underscores that final message as the dragon appears.
And now for something completely different:
The power of imagination is an important component as student director Brett Botbyl and a talented cast present "MERCURY -- Science Fiction Theatre," an anthology of short plays that opens the popular "Late Night Theatre" season at Ernst Lab Theatre.
Ryan Wuestewald and Hannah Schauer Galli give fascinating performances in the most interesting piece, "Propagation of Light in a Vacuum." He's the only surviving astronaut on a spaceship that may have exceeded the speed of light. She's his imaginary wife -- or have they reached a place in the time-space continuum where she can become real?
Michelle Hurtubise brings a similar level of engagement to "Breakaway Backdown" as a woman describing the circumstances of her decision to return to Earth. "They're Made Out of Meat" adds comedy as two alien scientists (Brad Larson and Marcus A. Lee) marvel at their discovery that sentient beings can consist entirely of "meat."