Strong Performances in "Dead of Night"
Dead of Night by Ed Sakamoto and directed by Taurie Kinoshita, plays once again at the Kumu Kahua stage. Originally presented in 2000, Dead of Night focuses on Alex— a young husband and soon-to-be father. It’s 1956 in Honolulu and on this particular evening Alex and his close knit group of friends gather at his home. They are all young men with families to provide for and mouths to feed, and having union representation promises better wages, a better future and no more struggle. The union enlists Alex and his friends to “negotiate” its latest demands with the company’s boss. Joining them is a guy from the mainland, sent by the union to lead them in carrying out their strong arm tactics. As the evening progresses, the plan goes horribly awry and the ties binding these young men together quickly unravel. By the end of the night, one man is dead and the friendships are abandoned. But who is to blame?
The production is helmed by noted veterans of the Kumu Kahua stage. William Ha’o plays The Man, the local union contact who gives Alex his orders to carry out the fateful plan. Tyler Tanabe plays Alex, the no nonsense leader of the gang and the one most respected by his peers. Randall Galius Jr. plays Jesse, the young muscle head of the group with a good heart. Brandon Hagio as Ikky, is the one guy that is a part of everyone’s pack of friends. Ikky is irritating, loud and boisterous and you wonder sometimes why you’re friends with him, but if anything he is the most loyal and will always have your back. Newcomer Jonathan Young plays Fuzzy, the Korean War veteran who came home to a greater appreciation of kim chee and maybe a side of PTSD. Berkeley Spivey plays Luke, the haole guy sent by the union from the mainland. He gives Luke no redeeming qualities and you dislike him from the moment he steps onstage. He is the definition of “mainland haole”...and not the good kind. Michelle Umipeg takes an interesting turn as Alex’s doting wife Maisie. She takes care of Alex and his friends bringing them beer and pupus even though Alex pleads with her not to. She is the epitome of a 1950s housewife...almost annoyingly so.
The actors do a great job introducing the audience to their characters. There is a familiarity in their portrayals. The relationships are believable and they are committed to their storytelling. However, the breakout performance belongs to Hagio. The relationship between his character Ikky and Tanabe’s Alex is real and tangible. One can feel the pain and heartache of both characters. Hagio’s performance is outstanding.
Costumes by Iris Kim reflect the era perfectly. Lighting by Cora Yamagata is subtle and purposeful giving dimension to the simple set designed by Justin Fragiao. Directed by Taurie Kinoshita, Dead of Night plays at Kumu Kahua Theatre through June 24.