Fishing for Wives on Theatre Row
Pan Asian Repertory Theatre is presenting the New York premiere of Fishing for Wives, a romantic comedy by Edward Sakamoto set in a magical 1913 Hawaii. The playwright paints a vintage story about Nishi a fisherman in Hawaii, who sends off a photo of his handsome friend in hopes of luring a beautiful Japanese woman into marriage. The tale is based on his director Ron Nakahara’s true heritage as the grandson of two "picture brides," Japanese women who came to Hawaii to marry men they only knew from a picture.
Using his past history the director paints a delightful portrait post of a world that is both amusing and insightful. If the production lacks dramatic impact, the evening nonetheless charms because of Skamoto’s marvelous gift for language and his wise understanding of his passionate characters. The cast stars Hawaii natives Bobby Foley (TV’s Hawaii Five-0,) and Viet Vo (TV’s Lost) as two bachelors Aoki and Nishi, respectively. The women are played by Kiyo Takami (Yamamoto), Rebecca Lee Lerman (Umeko), Akiko Hiroshima (Ihara), and Allison Hiroto Murashima).
The story unfolds when Nishi, tired of life as a single fisherman, sends for a picture bride from his native Japan, but includes a photo of his handsome friend Aoki instead of his own. The bride Yamamoto arrives and falls in love with Aoki, the wrong bachelor, setting off a comic rivalry. Determined to stay and win over the handsome Aoki, Yamamoto spurns her intended husband because of women’s problem’s and pursues Aoki. However, Aoki’s father set on having him married, sends one bride after another, each symbolic of the type of women that came to Hawaii in search a husband, until Murashima arrives giving the tale a final surprise turn of events played against the backdrop of the Hawaiian Islands.
"Like Horton Foote whose family dramas define Texas country life, septuagenarian Sakamoto specializes in the rich fabric of Hawaii," says Artistic Producing Director Tisa Chang. "Fishing for Wives is a significant renewal of Nakahara and Sakamoto’s longtime artistic partnership that will continue to explore the colorful characters of Hawaii for a new generation of artists and audiences."
PAN ASIAN REP first began producing Edward Sakamoto’s work in 1981. Fishing for Wives is his fifth play with the company and his nineteenth in a career that spans 5 decades. The evening is pure storytelling at its best, helmed by Sakamoto’s longtime collaborator, Ron Nakahara, who makes effective use of the sound and lighting design.
By Patrick Christiano
Fishing for Wives is now playing at the Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd Street through April 27. For tickets and more information call 212-239-6200 or go to www.panasinrep.org
Photo: Daniel DeMello
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