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Twelf Nite

The work is enhanced by the comically impressionistic set design of Patrick Plamondon, the seamless lighting of Frank McKown, the elaborate costuming of Ken Takemoto and the authentic musical offerings of musician Tim (Kimokeo) Holtwick.

The work is enhanced by the comically impressionistic set design of Patrick Plamondon, the seamless lighting of Frank McKown, the elaborate costuming of Ken Takemoto and the authentic musical offerings of musician Tim (Kimokeo) Holtwick.

Nothing of the Bard’s complicated plot maneuverings has been lost as the young, shipwrecked no-blewoman Lahela (Janet J. Song, standing in for regular cast member Jennifer Fujii), believing her twin brother Loka (understudy Ova Saopeng) to be dead, dresses as a man to go into the service of Prince Amalu (Jim Ishida).

Lahela soon finds herself falling in love with her employer while being forced to court the imposing Princess Mahealani (Kellye Nakahara) on the prince’s behalf.

Lahela’s misadventures become further complicated by Mahealani’s sudden and intense interest in the “good-lookin’ boy.”

The comedic thrust of the work is carried by the princess’s household of buffoons: The pompous Malolio (Alberto Isaac), the drunken and lecherous Count Opu-Nui (Benjamin Lum), the gullible nobleman Sir Andrew Waha (Radmar Agana Jao) and the lusty maid Kukana (Janice Terukina). (Shakespeare calls them, respectively, Malvolio, Sir Toby Belch, Andrew Aguecheek and Maria.)

Some of their scenes get bogged down by too many words and not enough action, but all the scenes involving Malolio are hilarious. Isaac offers a comic tour-de-force as Malolio is duped into a woefully misguided attempt to court Princess Mahealani.

Song offers a poignant and sensual Lahela, whose unrequited lust for the prince is sharply contrasted by her comically feeble attempts to “woe” the princess. Ishida is properly regal as the self-centered prince and Nakahara’s princess is the personification of hot-eyed passion.

Saopeng exudes a strong masculine presence as the twin brother who is only too happy to fulfill Mahealani’s expectations.

Twelf Nite

(O Wateva!) (East West Players, Los Angeles; 99 seats; $ 20 top)

Production: East West Players presents the West Coast premiere of a play in two acts by James Grant Benton, adapted from William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night, Or What You Will." Director, Brian Nelson; sets, Patrick Plamondon; costumes, Ken Takemoto; lighting, Frank McKown; choreography, Keali'i Caballos; musician, Tim (Kimokeo) Holtwick. Opened May 25, 1995; reviewed June 24; runs through July 16. Running time: 2 hrs., 20 min. Prince Amalu ... Jim Ishida Lahela ... Janet J. Song Kukana ... Janice Terukina Count Opu-Nui ... Benjamin Lum Sir Andrew Waha ... Radmar Agana Jao Lope ... Casey Kino Princess Mahealani ... Kellye Nakahara Malolio ... Alberto Isaac Loka ... Ova Saopeng Kawika ... Randall Mark Fisherman/Koa ... Jack Newalu Kohala/Alika ... Donald Sager Kahuna ... Ken Takemoto In James Grant Benton's pidgin-English adaptation, Shakespeare's comedy has been transferred to Oahu at a time described in the program as "Awhile back, brah." As presented by the very talented East West ensemble, this colorful jargon (a combination of English and various Asian languages) takes no more getting used to than Shakespeare's iambic pentameter, and is quite often more fun. Eschewing any real attempts at physical comedy, director Brian Nelson allows the humor of the language to carry the plot. Aside from a few slang-soggy scenes that don't go anywhere, Shakespeare has been well served.

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