×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Summer Moon

Naotake Fukushima Greg Watanabe

Naotake Fukushima Greg Watanabe

Rosie Yoshida Tamlyn Tomita

Arnie Stengel John K. Linton

John Olive’s “The Summer Moon,” ostensibly about the Japanese auto industry’s first steps in America, is a schizophrenic work: The first act concerns an awkward romance between a stuffy, callow Japanese man and a moody but capable American woman of Japanese ancestry; the second act follows the man’s bizarre indoctrination into American consumerism via trial by fire. Both acts rep a sort of pilgrim’s progress for Naotake Fukushima (Greg Watanabe), but neither provides a truly rounded picture of his journey or its implications. Taken as a whole, Olive’s play is decidedly less than the sum of its parts.Employing a combination of solo narration and dialogue, Olive has Naotake pretty much tell his own story, but such technique inevitably leaves out crucial information. Moreover, Olive’s desire to give life to two other characters, Rosie Yoshida (Tamlyn Tomita) and Arnie Stengel (John K. Linton), distracts our attention from Naotake’s tale. The jarring tonal shift between the two acts, from light comedy to antic surrealism, doesn’t help matters.Yet under Mark Rucker’s fluid and sensitive direction, the more lyrical passages in Olive’s work prove gratifying. Throughout the play, Naotake quotes the poetry of Matsuo Basho to illuminate his feelings. And though these digressions do little to advance the story, the intrinsic beauty of the words is reward enough. The play’s comic moments, too, will grip audiences, especially if they are easily amused. Naotake speaks bad English upon arriving in America, and an endless series of malapropisms (“I am behind myself with excitement”) elicits predictable yuks.Ultimately, though, Olive’s play, despite its amiability, exerts little pull. Though Naotake’s adventures prove believable enough, the rustic Rosie seems invented of whole cloth, as does her shell-shocked husband Arnie. These characters also introduce a whole series of anachronisms certain to annoy sticklers. The play takes far too many modern-day truisms for granted.The acting is never less than professional, but somehow always less than convincing. Watanabe seems strained as Naotake, and Tomita appears to be trying too hard. Linton is just plain manic , and far too much so.Technically, the production manages far better. Nephelie Andonyadis’ plain set features a desert terrain that serves multifarious purposes well. And Geoff Korf’s lighting proves essential to this production’s effective sense of atmosphere.

The Summer Moon

(Comedy-drama; South Coast Repertory; 161 seats; $ 45 top)

Production: COSTA MESA, Calif. A South Coast Repertory presentation of a play in two acts by John Olive. Directed by Mark Rucker.

Crew: Sets, Nephelie Andonyadis; costumes, Joyce Kim Lee; lighting, Geoff Korf; sound/ music, Michael Roth. Opened Nov. 5, 1999, reviewed Nov. 6. Closes Dec. 5. Running time: 2 HOURS.

More Film

  • 'Brokeback Mountain,' 'Jurassic Park' Added to

    'Brokeback Mountain,' 'Jurassic Park,' 'My Fair Lady' Added to National Film Registry

    “Brokeback Mountain,” “Jurassic Park,” “My Fair Lady,” “The Shining,” “Hud” and “Monterey Pop” are among the best known titles among this year’s additions to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. A place on the list — always made up of 25 films — guarantees the film will be preserved under the terms [...]

  • Christian Bale'Vice' film premiere, Arrivals, Los

    Christian Bale Recalls Meeting Donald Trump: 'He Thought I Was Bruce Wayne'

    With Christian Bale’s latest film, “Vice,” a political dramedy, it’s inevitable ties will be drawn between the film and the current political administration and its chief, President Donald Trump. On the red carpet for the premiere of “Vice,” Bale, who stars as former Vice President Dick Cheney, shared that he met the current president while [...]

  • ‘Bumblebee’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad

    ‘Bumblebee’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Paramount Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Bumblebee.” Ads placed for the sci-fi/action film had an estimated media value of $6.31 million through Sunday for 941 national [...]

  • Ryan Reynolds Stunt

    Film News Roundup: Ryan Reynolds' Michael Bay Film '6 Underground' Wraps Production

    In today’s film news roundup, shooting has wrapped on Ryan Reynolds’ “6 Underground,” BAFTA LA names new board members, and the WGA East honors longtime exec Randall Jasta.  PRODUCTION Michael Bay’s Ryan Reynolds-starrer “6 Underground” has wrapped production. Netflix and Skydance Media completed principal photography in Abu Dhabi on the action-adventure, which reportedly carries a $125 [...]

  • Bruce Springsteen on Broadway

    Film Review: 'Springsteen on Broadway'

    Hope you like the 69-year-old version of Bruce Springsteen’s face, because it’s virtually all you’re going to see for the two hours and 40 minutes of the filmed “Springsteen on Broadway” — other than the bare brick wall of the theater casting a dim glow in the background beyond those gray sideburns, and two songs’ [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'A Star Is Born,' 'Vice' Lead 2018 Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Nominees

    The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) announced their nominees for the 8th annual AACTA International Awards on Tuesday. “A Star Is Born” and “Vice” lead the pack, with five and four nominations respectively. The two leading films compete with “BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Roma” for best film, while Nicole Kidman becomes the [...]

  • China's Government Orders Talent Home to

    After Golden Horse Awards Embarrassment, China Orders Talent Home for Huabiao Ceremony

    China’s government quietly ordered top Chinese talent back to the mainland from abroad this past weekend to attend a Beijing ceremony for its highest film industry honors, the loosely bi-annual Huabiao Awards. The move came just weeks after it directed mainland film executives and talent to snub after-parties and return home as quickly as possible [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content