Entertainment Today

reviewed by Jose Ruiz

"There is a unique charm to this story ... This fast-moving presentation is detailed and well thought out, and definitely a great way to start the playgoers year."

The time is post World War II and the place is the island of Okinawa, where Army Colonel Wainwright Purdy III (Tony Matthews) is on a mission to implement Occupation Plan B; to teach democracy to the residents of the small village of Tobiki, even if it means having to shoot them all. Like many war parodies, this 1954 story by playwright John Patrick has the Army brass looking stupid and the illiterate islanders coming off like rocket scientists - you know, just like in real life.

Captain Fisby (Evan Andes) has experienced a series of SNAFUs in his Army career and now he's assigned to Tobiki, where he's to lecture on democracy and build a pentagon shaped school, with the help of the residents. His interpreter and assistant, Sakini (Keisuke Hoashi) is a wily native who craftily maneuvers Fisby into a different version of democracy, where the villagers eventually get a lot more than the government had planned for them.

No story is complete without a little whoopee and when lovely geisha Lotus Blossom (Kaz Mata-Mura) is dropped off at Fisby's doorstep, the Shiatsu hits the fan. Without ever speaking, she changes his plans from building a school house to making a tea house in a matter of days; and when screwy Capt. McLean (Josh T. Ryan) is sent to investigate, he gets caught up in Fisby's folly and Plan B goes out the window. Soon the residents are distilling brandy and making a fortune selling it to other bases.

Needless to say, the Colonel eventually learns about the shenanigans and his surprise visit insures curtains for Fisby and McLean.There is a unique charm to this story, with Sakini guiding the audience through various phases of the play.

In spite of the cast speaking mostly Japanese with the sketchiest of translation provided, we know just what the villagers are thinking and the slow bonding between them and Fisby is artfully guided by director Mike Rademaekers. It shows that people can meet on a personal level, where differences in culture become meaningless, and common goals bring out the similarities in all of us.

This fast moving presentation is detailed and well thought out, and definitely a great way to start the playgoers year. Call (818) 623-4291 for reservations before Jan. 19, 2003. "