Shimon Wincelbergs two-hander is set during World War II on a remote Pacific island (wonderfully depicted in painstaking detail by designer Potsch Boyd). Protagonist Alvin Coombs (Fernando Aldaz) literally drops into the story after he is forced to parachute from his plane during combat. Much to his dismay, the island is not deserted, and he finds himself at the hands of Kimura (Yas Takahashi), an armed Japanese solider who frisks him at knifepoint, taking his cigarettes and cash. Worse, Kimura speaks almost no English, and Alvin almost no Japanese. What begins as grunts, gestures and improvised sign language, however, soon turns into true communication, as the mortal enemies get to know each other. None of this is smooth by any means, but it stokes the drama, providing moments of humor, tension and poignancy. Director Peter Haskell brings out this emotional depth in the text, masterfully massaging stretches of silence into powerful conflict, and his elongated transitions between scenes come to embody the Beckettian pace of life for this stranded pair. Haskell is aided by Louis Roths fight choreography, which is at times scary in its violence, and of course by Aldaz and Takahashis moving performances, so authentic in their humanity. What is most enjoyable, though, is the return to theaters origins in basic movement and expression. This creates an atmosphere reminiscent of a time when we took more than a moment to contemplate life. McCadden Place Theatre, 1157 N. McCadden Place, Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; thru Feb. 13. plays411.com/kataki A Prince Livingston Players Production.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Jan. 22. Continues through Feb. 13, 2010