Intense and WIld
Intense does not come close to describing what Eric Anderson's historical drama, Wild Birds, brings to the stage! Every emotion that one could muster erupts like the lava flows of Kilauea...beautiful to watch but too hot to touch!
The play takes place in Honolulu in the 1840's when two missionary teachers, Mr. Amos Starr Cooke (Max Holtz) and his wife, Mrs. Julia Montague Cooke (Joanna Mills), are assigned the task to teach the children of the Alii...Moses Kekuaiwa (Ryan "Oki" Okinaka), Lot Kamehameha (Kirk A. Lapilio Jr.), Alexander Liholiho (Dylan Chace Lee), Bernice Pauahi (Lelea'e "Buffy" Kahalepuna-Wong), Abigail Mahoha (Anette Arinix) and William Lunalilo (James Keawe Bright).
The children are very young when they are first encountered by the Cooke's, and grow as the play progresses into their late teens. The actors transform themselves beautifully so one actually experiences them grow from the first act to the end of the second act.
As children of the Alii, they understand that they are entitled and with privilege, and the job of English education, in language, history and customs, by the Cooke's is daunting. Therefore Mr. Cooke "dictates", with the "consent" of the Royal parents, that the children be boarded with them and disciplined as he see's fit, including corporal punishment.
The strictness permeates the play and intensifies until the very end when an unexpected explosion of human emotion takes place.
All the actors are excellent, under the direction of Harry Wong III. The production team of Brandon Hagio (Assistant Director), Bulldog (Set Design), Carlynn Wolfe (Costume Design), Matthew Mazzella (Sound Design), Cora Yamagata (Lighting Design) and Brenda Pualani Santos (Hair & Wig Design), did an excellent job of creating the leap back into time to give us a glimpse into history and how our present day Hawaii was formed. Quoting Eric Anderson, "history is history, drama is drama-and sometimes the twain shall meet".
So do not hesitate to see this play. Call Kumu Kahua Theatre at 536-4441 or go to: kumu kahua.org, for tickets. You will definitely leave the theatre with an opinion, and have plenty to discuss at Murphy's after.
Written by Allan Okubo