STILL WATCHING, MCDONALD'S, MCDONALD'S, MCDONALD'S, and THE STARMAN, TinFish Theatre. There's not a single actual play among Makoto Yamaguchi's three purported one-acts, whose lack of content makes them seem mere demonstrations of competence in a second language. Yamaguchi, born and raised in Japan, has done himself no favors by directing his own works, highlighting their weaknesses.
The first piece, Still Watching, is essentially an actor's exercise ("Give us paranoia now"), and the actor isn't up to it. The second takes the movie trope of the irresistible female kook, gives her the larcenous twist of Melanie Griffith in Something Wild, and inflicts her on an innocent bystander. Though the kook (identified only as "Girl," a sure sign of Playwright Too Busy With Higher Matters to Bother With Character) is intensely annoying, Jennifer Milton manages to give her some comic appeal. Still, instead of McDonald's, McDonald's, McDonald's, the piece ought to be called "Something Tame."
The evening ends with The Starman, a pastiche of stage and movie cliches from the past 50 years. Resembling boring outtakes from Leaving Las Vegas, the story revolves around a prostitute who listens to the deathbed meditations of a customer but adds traces of The Zoo Story (senseless urban violence--or in this case senseless seaside violence) and Waiting for Godot. The dialogue is pseudoprofound ("You can wake from your dreams but you can't wake from your beliefs") and delivered with enough sighs and pauses to power several soap operas. Liz Robertson is charming but not convincing as the prostitute.