Sunday, March 19, 2017

Calligraphy: ☼ ☼ ☼

Two cousins, one Japanese and one Japanese-American, the first living in Tokyo and the second in Los Angeles, are attempting to reconcile their mothers, who are sisters. The two older ladies quarreled as younger women over the love of a man and have never been able to get past it. Now they live thousands of miles from each other. Their two daughters are determined to bring their mothers back together.

Or...are they? Hiromi (Mia Nagano) and her mother Noriko (Emily Kuroda), in California, are prepared to travel back to a Japanese Hot Springs for the reunion, but Sayuri (Elizabeth Pan) is having trouble convincing her mother Natsuko (Jeanne Sakata). The younger cousins, who talk intercontinentally on Skype, have built a relationship through the years while the older women have remained angry at each other most of their lives.

Central to understanding "Calligraphy" is the concept of filial piety, and how Sayuri, who has remained in Japan caring for her mother, longs to escape. There is also the issue of racism, since Noriko married a black soldier and therefore Hiromi is half Japanese, half-African American.

But in the end, it is about the power of family. How will these four resolve their issues?

RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼ 
The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "Calligraphy" Three Stars. We find it a little difficult to understand how Sayuri can do what she does at the end. Her character, and that of her mother Natsuko, are not easy to like. This makes the final resolution somewhat problematic. Still, the acting is good and the story interesting enough to recommend coming to see.

Lucie Stern Theater
1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
Through April 2

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