Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A book AND theatre review- Night at the Pahala Theatre

Ok, I am going to start off with the book review.

Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre is written by Lois-Ann Yamanaka. Yes, I am sorry folks, another Yamanaka piece of work. This book is actually a story that takes place within several different poems. The book is yet another "coming-of-age" tale. Out of all of Yamanaka's works, I would suggest reading this one first only because she uses parts from this book in her novels. I found that when I was reading this I was kind of bored only because I felt like I had read it before with all the references to taxidermy (Heads by Harry), the molester by the school ground (Blu's Hanging), and the bullying of family (Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers). Like all of Yamanaka's works, this book uses the Pidgin dialect. I feel like out of all of her novels this one really incorporates Pidgin the most, so if you have a hard time reading Pidgin I would not suggest this book.

Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre is about a young 12 year-old girl, Lucy, who lives on Hilo who has to deal with certain obstacles in her life, including a 19 year-old "boyfriend" or basically child molester. Lucy's family is abusive (like Yamanaka's other fictional families) mentally and physically. What sticks out in my mind the most is the poem with the iron hanger. In one part the mother beats her child with a golf club. Pretty serious stuff.

On the plus side, the collection of poems is very short and makes for a quick read. I would suggest perhaps taking Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre on the beach. It's a very good beach book because it is enjoyable and short and easy to pick up where you left off.

Saturday February 26, 2012 I attended a play at Kumu Kahua Theatre for the showing of Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre.

I have never been to Kumu Kahua for a performance yet, so I was unsure of what to expect. As I walked in the theatre I noticed almost all of the seats were taken. I squeezed myself between a tough looking local guy and a group of old white tourists. Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre really brought in a variety of audience members.

The stage was very small, and I give props for the crew for adapting to the amount of space they had for such a complicated play, but they made it work by not using a lot of props and not resetting the background. The only bad thing about the stage set up was that from the middle of the audience it was hard to see a lot of scenes, especially if the actors were sitting down which they did often. I missed a few scenes because of this.

The acting was phenomenal. Seriously, these actors have serious acting skills.

Bouncing off that, Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre was "Meh". To me, it seemed too long and the tone for Kumu Kahua's rendition really ruined the message Yamanaka wanted to display in her original work. It actually made me believe Pahala is horrible place to grow up in with the bullying and the molesters. Also, I felt that the characters were way too "over-the-top". There was one point where the actors dispersed throughout the audience and started screaming in various members faces. They were screaming so loud that I felt I couldn't understand what they were saying, let alone know what was going on in the play, and what the excessive screaming had anything to do with the overall message.

Also, I felt like I could have wrote a better play version of Saturday Night at the Pahala Theatre. I felt like scenes were rushed. The transition of comical scenes and a serious scenes were rushed, causing the audience to not feel any sympathy for the very serious matters that were occurring, like child molestation. The audience was laughing at child abuse. It was very concerning, and really ruined the play for me.

Would I go see it again? MAYBE, to see the actors perform again just because they were so good. But, most likely no.

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