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

  • CAA Owner TPG Buying Payroll Specialist

    CAA Owner TPG Buying Payroll Specialist Entertainment Partners

    TPG Capital, the massive private equity firm that owns Creative Artists Agency, is buying payroll specialist Entertainment Partners for an undisclosed price. Entertainment Partners’ management team, led by president and CEO Mark Goldstein, will continue in their roles. The agreement was announced Tuesday with plans to close the deal during the second quarter. “We’re thrilled [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Agents Accuse Writers Guild of Threatening to Throw 'Industry Into Chaos'

    UPDATE – The dealmakers appear to be getting nowhere. Negotiators for Hollywood agents and the Writers Guild of America have achieved little progress at their seventh session on Tuesday, with a chaotic scenario looming on April 7. “When Guild leadership is ready to move on from their declared threatening phase, we stand ready to work [...]

  • Zoe Lister-Jones The Craft

    'The Craft' Remake Finds Director in Zoe-Lister Jones

    “Life in Pieces” star Zoe Lister-Jones will write and direct Sony Pictures’ remake of “The Craft” for Blumhouse and Red Wagon Entertainment. Doug Wick, the producer of the original “The Craft,” will return in the same capacity along with partner Lucy Fisher through their Red Wagon banner. Jason Blum is also producing and his Blumhouse [...]

  • Carol Burnett

    Carol Burnett's Mother-Daughter Story 'Carrie and Me' in Development as a Movie

    Carol Burnett’s bestseller “Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story” is in the works as a movie at Focus Features with Burnett, Tina Fey, Eric Gurian, and Steven Rogers producing. Burnett will produce through her Mabel Cat Productions with Fey and Gurian under their production banner Little Stranger along with Rogers (“I, Tonya”). The sibling [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild Plans for Agency Pact Expiration: 'There Will Be Difficult Moments'

    Leaders of the Writers Guild of America have sent members contingency plans for the possible expiration of its agency franchise agreement on April 7 — and admitted that it may be a rocky road. Members received the letter Tuesday from the guild’s negotiating committee as the WGA and agents were about the hold their seventh [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    Entertainment One, Universal to Partner on Home Entertainment

    Entertainment One and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment have signed a multi-year, multi-territory distribution agreement. UPHE will serve as the home entertainment distributor of eOne’s offerings across both physical and digital formats. The pact covers film, television, and select family content and includes all sales, marketing, and distribution, spanning the U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, Spain, Australia, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content