Stage Struck Review

Reviews for theater within the greater Los Angeles area.

Anime Live? – “Slice” proves lighthearted comedy

Scott Keiji Takeda and Aaron Takahashi square off in “Slice” the new play at the Fremont Centre Theatre (photos: Tina Ting)


Though not a devotee, I am told that one of the charms of Anime is often the blending of time periods: the language of modern man put to work on a classic story. If so, then Paul Kikuchi’s new play “Slice,” presented by the Metamorphosis Theatre Company at the Fremont Centre Theatre in South Pasadena, takes that concept and puts it on a live stage. The results are not particularly deep, but they are a lot of fun.

We are in feudal Japan. The young and egotistical Kai Matsuda is tired of repairing the armor of samurai. He determines to become a great sword-maker, foolishly sure of his skills and self-absorbedly uncaring of the financial predicament he creates. His mother, who works for (though not in) the local geisha house, must placate the pompous local official and his bodyguard, yet still decides to protect an independent young woman from persecution at the hands of the official’s lord. Kai must now cope with this critical observer, placate the officials who find him ridiculous, and – if possible – actually make a sword worthy of marketing.

The whole thing is performed by a small but polished cast. Their consistency and pacing create more out of this piece of theater than the story or script might suggest.

Mke Hagiwara as the leering Lord Ito and Aaron Takahashi as his bodyguard

Scott Keiji Takeda gives Kai an almost cartoonish pomposity reminiscent of the average 13-year-old. It sets the comic stage. Emily Kuroda proves very funny as the practical, worldly wise mother, which Elizabeth Ho creates an edgy toughness for the fugitive. Mike Hagiwara has a lovely time strutting about, and waggling the occasional eyebrow as the lascivious nobleman. Aaron Takahashi all but steals the show as the tough samurai guard with one quivering weakness. Though all the performances are amusing, his is laugh-out-loud funny.

Director Jeff Liu has taken this improbable plot, and made it his own, relishing the anachronistic conversation and heightening the cartoonish quality where it serves the humor. Marie Miller’s facile, mat-based set is clever indeed. Nicholas Hirata’s costuming, right down to quilted “armor,” proves evocative.

“Slice” is lightweight, but it is fun. Frankly, watching Takahashi’s character’s irrational fear blossom is pretty much worth the price of admission. Treat this one like a small, silly treat: not enough to subsist on, but awfully entertaining in the moment.

What: “Slice” When: Through November 18, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays Where: Fremont Centre Theatre, 1000 Fremont Ave. in South Pasadena How Much: $25 general, $20 seniors/students Info: (877) MTC-8777 or http://www.metamorphosistheatre.org

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