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Theater review: 'Wrinkles' at East West Players

February 17, 2011 | 11:49 am

Wrinkles3If Charlie Sheen leaves “Two and a Half Men,” CBS may want to scout “Wrinkles,” Paul Kikuchi’s slick comedy now at East West Players. This mature sitcom — and I mean that in every sense — features a smooth single guy with a vigorous interest in chicks. He just happens to be a grandpa.

Widower Harry (Sab Shimono) lives in Pasadena with divorced daughter Nancy (Amy Hill), a lawyer, and her teenage son, Jason (Ki Hong Lee).  Their lives are predictably aspirational, a feeling effectively conveyed by set designer Alan E. Muraoka’s middle-class home, impressive enough to deserve its own MLS listing.  But all is not as it appears. A Trader Joe’s bag turns up containing something other than Joe’s O’s, and its youthful owner soon arrives (Elizabeth Ho), attired in what can be termed only as Early “Pretty Woman.” It seems Harry is an Internet sensation, and not for biting anyone’s finger. He is indeed big in Japan, where elder porn generates millions as the hottest new twist on adult entertainment.

Don’t wince: There’s nothing in “Wrinkles” that would offend your average Sunday school teacher. The appeal of this slight but good-natured comedy lies in Kikuchi’s light touch with matters sexual and the charm of the players. The excellent Hill conjures a Tiger Mom attorney with killer timing, and Shimono has an unapologetic directness that makes his purported stardom credible. 

Director Jeff Liu encourages some mugging but keeps his cast on pace, even when Kikuchi’s story takes a couple of overly convenient turns. Make no mistake, this is a TV pilot on stage, and the playwright doesn’t dig too deeply into his characters. But, just as Sheen’s long-running comedy — as opposed to his real-life farce — has shown us, sex is ultimately a means to intimacy, physical vitality and joy. That this truth applies to suburban septuagenarians as well as smooth-skinned porn stars is what gives “Wrinkles” its gentle wisdom.

“Wrinkles” David Henry Hwang Theater at the Union Center for the Arts, 120 Judge John Aiso St., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends March 13. $25-$35. Contact: (213) 625-7000 or www.eastwestplayers.org. Running time: 80 minutes.

Photo: (l to r) Elizabeth Ho, Amy Hill, Sab Shimono and Ki Hong Lee. Credit: Michael Lamont.

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