Yohen Recommended / by R. Sheth

October 2, 2008
By Laura Molzahn

The premise of Philip Kan Gotanda's resonant 2006 play sounds like an excuse for sociopolitical thumbsucking: Japanese native Sumi and African-American World War II vet James question the soundness of their 37-year marriage. But cultural differences merely flavor this drama. The real subject is the emotional chasms between husbands and wives.

Gotanda expertly orchestrates Sumi and James's verbal dances to gradually unveil their flawed, complex characters: she's part geisha, part free-spirited artist, part Japanese JAP, while he's an outgoing boxing fan who combines a robust sense of self with profound insecurities. Gotanda hammers his central metaphor too hard, but in Steve Scott's staging, Ernest Perry Jr. and Cheryl Hamada transcend the play's small weaknesses, lovingly exposing the tragedy of a good marriage gone wrong.