In the late 1950s, the era of the “well-made-play” was clearly waning. Still, playwrights like Leonard Spigelgass stuck to this form of tightly structured drama, in which societal problems trumped characterization. This chestnut follows the story of Brooklyn Jewish widow Mrs. Jacoby (Paula Prentiss), who carries with her the grief of losing her son to the Japanese in World War II. When her daughter Alice (Anya Profumo) and son-in-law Jerome (Ross Benjamin) inform her that they are bound to Japan for the foreign service and wish to take her along, she is dismayed but ultimately agrees. On the crossing, she reluctantly befriends Mr. Asano (Sab Shimono), Jerome’s diplomatic adversary. Issues of family ties, race and culture are pieced precisely together, leading to the appropriate climax and immediate denouement. While the play leans toward the tedious, director Salome Gens nonetheless brings out more characterization than the author offers. Prentiss and Shimono share delightful senses of stage presence — though he tends to be verbally halting and she is often grasping for lines. In an amusing turn, Edison Park plays a ne’er-do-well Japanese servant who brings in welcome comic moments. The production is not helped by an oppressive brick-wall set (presumably to keep Brooklyn in mind at all times), in which small windows are opened with little bits of evocative visuals for each new scene. This is a failed attempt at scenic Schenectady. Pico Playhouse, 10508 W. Pico Blvd., W.L.A.; Thurs.-Sat., 8 p.m.; Sun., 2 p.m.; through Dec. 14. (800) 838-3006.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Oct. 23. Continues through Dec. 14, 2008
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