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Funny, enigmatic Theory of Everything
Funny, enigmatic Theory of Everything
by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

The Theory of Everything
SiS Productions at Richard Hugo House
Through March 15


The funny, enigmatic play currently running at SiS Productions, The Theory of Everything, has one character state out loud (not clearly, but out loud) what his theory is, so this play won't solve the great riddle for you. What it will do is give you an enjoyable evening with likable and relatable characters that are all grappling with their place in everything. Prince Gomolvilas wrote the play before the turn of the millennium, but it feels like it was last year. It's surprisingly relevant and contemporary, and might even feel that way 10 years from now.

A close-knit community of friends has gathered on a rooftop in Las Vegas every Saturday night for over three years, waiting for UFOs to show up. The beginning of the play starts with a wonderful monologue by Patty (Kathy Hsieh) about how she deserves to have aliens come get her, because she has prepared herself thoroughly by steeping herself in UFO history. The play takes place a few days before her birthday.

The rooftop is above Patty's and husband Hiro's (Stan Asis) Chapel of Love, one of those "open all night" chapels for quickie weddings. Patty and Hiro charmingly quiz each couple to see if they are a "match" by asking if either would take a bullet for the other. Those that answer "yes" are ready to get married. Patty's mother, May (Aya Hashiguchi), Patty's best friend Shimmy (Leilani Berinobis), Shimmy's son Gilbert (Jose Abaoag,) and May's grandchildren Nef (Sam Tsubota) and Lana (Miko Premo) round out the company on the rooftop.

Everyone is in transition. Lana arrives from law school having been kicked out for bad grades and dumped by her boyfriend. Nef's long time girlfriend dumps him. We learn that Patty and Hiro have a stale, dry marriage. Shimmy is lonely, pining after a husband dead for 20 years. Gilbert is lonely, partly due to as yet unreconciled homosexual feelings. Grandma May is the only character who is relatively happy with her life.

The action starts with Grandma May being left alone and yelling that she has (finally) seen an alien and felt the strange tug of a blue light trying to take her away. Patty is so happy about this that she recruits everyone to take turns keeping watch for the next day and night to see if the aliens come back. It's her birthday present from them.

The cast feels very real and grounded. Each is strongly individual. It is a cultural mix of Pilipino, Japanese, Thai, and Chinese descendants, with common "Asian" experiences to share. The accents are completely true to character (helped by coaches Toni Rose and Khanistha Pfingsten). Manuel R. Cawaling has directed a tight, well-thought-out production, with one odd exception: He has added, as his own creation, a "watcher," who he names Koken, who is not in the script and is played by Tiffani Koyano. Koyano is extraordinarily beautiful, and does not speak, but Cawaling has her wander around the set, moving lights. She is, perhaps, the embodiment of the aliens they crave to see. Sentiment about the addition, in unscientific polling, runs about half and half between those who like and dislike this invention.

Craig B. Wollam has designed a great simple set for the rooftop, with a doorway in the back of the theater and a couple of heights of roof tiering, which looks very Vegas and appropriate. Lighting designer, Melinda M. Short, does a nice job of lighting the action, although some of it tends towards too dark, at times, and then there are lightbulbs that Koken has to turn on and off for reasons unknown. Sound, by Vanessa Farley, has some great music choices to accompany scene changes and monologues to the audience.

The overall message of the play could be that one should not allow oneself to stay stuck in life's rut, but to move through fear of the unknown toward possibilities. With as much fear of the unknown as we are currently living with, it's a good encouragement for us all.

For more information, go to www.sis-productions.org or call 206-323-9443.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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