Review: ‘Wrinkles’


Veteran actor Sab Shimono is a class act all the way, his easy, skillful delivery the main reason to catch Paul Kikuchi's "Wrinkles" at East West Players.

Veteran actor Sab Shimono is a class act all the way, his easy, skillful delivery the main reason to catch Paul Kikuchi’s “Wrinkles” at East West Players. The play isn’t much more than the “grandpa Harry is a porn star!” premise, its comic implications worked out illogically when they’re explored at all. But there are solid laughs, mostly generated by the star.

With the discovery of a Trader Joe’s bag containing a giant vibrator, the retired plumber admits he’s taken up a different kind of plumbing as a second career. It’s an understandable blow to bitter divorcee daughter Nancy (Amy Hill), currently of counsel in some sort of landmark obscenity case, and her horny college-bound son Jason (Ki Hong Lee).

They’re joined by Teena (an amusing Elizabeth Ho), Harry’s comely partner in a series of “elder porn” videos – best seller: “Lady and the Gramps” – supposedly sweeping Japan and threatening to go viral worldwide. Shimono’s matter-of-fact acceptance of that notoriety serves as a delightful contrast to Lee’s prurience and Hill’s unvaried annoyance. (If there’s any opportunity for her to sigh disgustedly, rest assured she and helmer Jeff Liu will find it.)

As a plotter, Kikuchi leaves a lot to be desired. He’s convinced that Nancy will be in big career trouble should her dad’s profession leak out (no way), and as if to remove all traces of sympathy for her, he follows Harry’s confession of incipient Alzheimer’s with her kicking him out of the house: “I’m tired of cleaning up after your messes!” she shrieks, though we have no idea to what messes she’s referring. Don’t playwrights listen to the lines they pen?

In Andrew Bergman’s hilarious, underrevived “Social Security,” a dowager’s affair creates no end of envy when her daughters compare their lot with mom’s. Kikuchi seems interested in this tack by carefully establishing Nancy’s single status and Jason’s lack of girlfriend. Then it’s all dropped, in favor of lengthy speculation that Jason may be gay because he dotes on “Iron Chef.” Insert disgusted sigh here.

Liu stages 2011’s first spit take, and may it be the last. Tech credits are superior, with Dan Weingarten attractively lighting Alan E. Muraoka’s detailed suburban living room, sturdier than the vehicle inhabiting it.


David Henry Hwang Theater, Los Angeles; 240 seats; $35 top


An East/West Players presentation of a play in one act by Paul Kikuchi. Directed by Jeff Liu.


Sets, Alan E. Muraoka; costumes, Soojin Lee; lighting, Dan Weingarten; sound, Dennis Yen; stage manager, Jaclyn Kalkhurst. Opened Feb. 16, 2011. Reviewed Feb. 24. Runs through March 13. Running time: 1 HOUR, 15 MIN.


Harry Fukutani - Sab Shimono
Nancy Fukutani - Amy Hill
Teena - Elizabeth Ho
Jason Komiyama - Ki Hong Lee

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