Eddie is a triumph for HTYBy John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin
LOCAL actor Bryan Hiroshi Wake brings a legend to life and makes a smashing debut as a playwright with Honolulu Theatre for Youth's production of "Eddie Would Go."
Wake's biography of Eddie Aikau played its first public performances at Tenney Theatre last Saturday. Both shows were sold out; extra chairs were set up to accommodate as many extra people as possible.
The current interest in "Eddie Would Go" has certainly been pumped up by the fact that Eddie "went" off Lanai almost exactly 20 years ago.
Wake's play stands on its own merits in giving intermediate school students a look at the big-wave surfer who inspired the ubiquitous bumper sticker. Wake gives kids plenty to think about. He also keeps them entertained from start to finish.
BullDog, Ray Campainha, Kele Makahanaloa and Hermen Tesoro Jr. portray four extremely belligerent teen-age surfers who take time out from surfing and grinding (eating) to act out the legends and life of Eddie Aikau.
A pair of red-and-white shorts indicates which one of the four is currently playing Eddie. Lisa Ann M. Omoto (Costumes) uses other bits and pieces to establish who's portraying Eddie's father brothers, and other characters.
The bits and pieces are traded around as the quartet recalls important moments in Eddie's life: Eddie learns to swim. Eddie learns to surf. Eddie quits school. Eddie works the pineapple cannery. Eddie almost doesn't get hired as a life guard because he didn't graduate from high school. Eddie saves more than 1000 people from drowning.
And, when the Hokule'a capsizes in rough seas, Eddie insists on going for help. He disappears. The capsized canoe is spotted several hours later. Those who remained with the canoe survive.
Wake's surfers spend almost as much time beefing, pouting, making "big body," and yelling at each other as they do actually talking story about Eddie. The youthful crowd last Saturday loved the slapstick but seemed to take in the serious messages as well.
A sound bite from Eddie's 1978 radio interview with Ron Jacobs ends the play on an appropriately somber note. Eddie visited the DJ just three days before paddling into eternity.
Don Yanik (scenic design) defines the beach environment with a park bench, some surfboards and a trash can. A willing audience becomes ocean waves. Some action takes place in the aisles.
Wake's play is destined to become a classic in local theater. It's one of the best locally written plays about Hawaii in recent memory.
ReviewWhat: "Eddie Would Go"
When: 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Tenney Theatre, St. Andrew's Cathedral
Cost: $5-$10 (children under 3 admitted free)