Voices From Okinawa

There must be merit in John Shirota's study of an American (one-quarter Okinawan) who's teaching English in the land of his great-grandfather, but I found it shrouded in the sentimentality of old-world mysticism and the well-trod humor from cultural divides, as Jama Hutchins (the ingratiating Joseph Kim) tries to get his shy students to tell their stories in English, which leads to painfully expansive recitations in Pidgin English. Under Tim Dang's direction, we see the mostly muted and occasionally open hostility toward U.S. troops, against the story-in-the-wind of an Okinawan girl being raped by an American GI. This confrontation would seem a perfect opening for an examination of Okinawan-vs.-American sensibilities, but Shirota and Dang settle for the soft-shoe belief that a mystery can be fathomed with a kind of storytelling where conflict is muted beyond recognition. This play isn't merely delicate, it's inert. Amy Hill turns in a sweet rendition of Hutchins' 90-some-year-old distant relative, who is both feisty and wise, naturally Wednesdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Feb. 13. Continues through March 9, 2008