with kabuki works
for improv groupLoose Screws Kabuki: At Windward Community College's Little Theatre, 8 p.m. today through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. $10.Call 253-1004.
By John BergerHONOLULU'S Loose Screws improv troupe scores another triumph with "Loose Screws: Kabuki!" at Windward Community College. Combining traditional Japanese theater with contemporary improvisational techniques to create a two-act kabuki play is a fresh idea. Not all such experiments work out but this one succeeds as entertainment and as an introduction to kabuki for those who are not familiar with it.
Special to the Star-Bulletin
The mechanics of improv kabuki are simple: The nine-person cast establishes a storyline using a newspaper clipping provided by someone in the audience. (Bring a clipping; it's good for a dollar off the ticket price.)
The event is then set in late 18th-century Japan. The cast performs in kabuki costumes, wigs and makeup. A simple but beautiful backdrop defines the performance area. The dialogue is English but delivered kabuki-style as in the superb Kennedy Theatre productions of "The Summer Festival: A Mirror of Osaka" and "Sukeroku: The Flower of Edo."
The story last Friday was inspired by a clipping on flooding in England and set on the grounds of the Shogun's palace in Edo. A disgraced general (Robb Bonnell) was forced to empty a pond with a bucket and an evil advisor plotted to depose the shogun through the use of a stolen magic fan.
Numerous cockroaches and an amorous ferryman (Walter S. Eccles II) also figured in the struggle for power, wealth and honor.
A samurai played by director R. Kevin Doyle died in battle during Act I. His brother (also played by Doyle) returned from Kyoto to avenge him as Act II opened with the scheming of a beautiful courtesan (Cindi Kusuda).
Chris Doi, Sean T.C. O'Malley, Tony Pisculli, Kristen Van Bodegraven and Cassandra Wormser complete the cast. Wormser, one of the leads in Kennedy's "Summer Festival," also designed the wigs and makeup.
The show last Friday wasn't the laugh-a-minute fare Loose Screws has presented in some past projects but the story developed nicely, the characters were interesting, and the basic conventions of kabuki were maintained throughout. The title was announced at the end of the performance as "The Company of Cockroaches."
The cast returns after Act II to answer questions about the performance and kabuki.
The audience was embarrassingly small considering the past popularity of English-language kabuki. Anyone interested in kabuki, Japanese culture or clean unconventional entertainment should be sure to get over to WCC this weekend. "Loose Screws: Kabuki!" deserves a full house.
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