Perhaps most notorious in the West for his sensational, 1970 suicide by seppuku, controversial poet-novelist Yukio Mishima was also a playwright of both contemporary dramas and works blending the modern with traditions drawn from the classical Japanese stage. This fascinating evening features two of Mishimas modernized Noh texts from 1956 (translated by Donald Keene) that play like a Gothic mix of Tennessee Williams and Edgar Allen Poe. With Hanjo, directed by Aramazd Stepanian, Mishima takes the theme of pure love into the tortured extreme of the Noh madness play. Jitsuko (Hiroko Imai) is a 40-year-old painter who, though she has never found love, has discovered the perfect embodiment of it as a subject for her paintings in Hanako (Kazumi Zatkin), a beautiful geisha driven insane by the agony of futilely waiting for the return of true love Yoshio (Yutaka Takeuchi). In The Lady Aoi, Toshi Toda directs Mishimas surreal twist on the vengeful ghost play. Hikaru (Toshiya Agata) arrives at a strange clinic to find his sedated young wife, Aoi (Miho Ando), tormented by the ghost of a libido, the still-burning love/hate of Hikarus jilted former lover (Fay Kato). Toda also directs a traditional, short Kyogen interlude piece, the farcical Hana-Ko. Though the production has its share of rough edges, a delightful cast and supple direction (accented by Chris Edinjikilians misty scenic painting and Sandy Gabucans effective lights) neatly illuminate Mishimas dark and uncompromising obsessions. Luna Playhouse, 3706 San Fernando Road, Glendale; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 3 & 7 p.m.; through Aug. 1. (818) 500-7200.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 & 7 p.m. Starts: July 9. Continues through Aug. 8, 2010