4 stars

Beef and Board’s South Pacific has a full swath of humanity.

Elizabeth Stark, director, highlights the truths that bring us together and the deceptions that pull us apart. 

“Will we make a better world if we win?” implores Commander Harbison (played by Adam O. Crowe).

The setting of South Pacific shows the world at a stalemate. World War II is grinding on, and American troops are based on an “island paradise” waiting for a way to break through the Japanese offensive.

Taken from James Michener’s 1948 Pulitzer Prize-winning book, two parallel love stories run as the main conflict. Meanwhile the daily grind of maintaining readiness is grating on the nerves of the military personnel. What they do adds comic relief, particularly through the antics conjured up by Luther Billis (Jeff Stockberger) and the audacity of Bloody Mary (Cynthia Thomas).

Enough has changed in U.S. culture for a young member in the audience to wonder what Nellie’s problem is when she learns de Becque had married a woman of Polynesian heredity. “It’s not anything you did,” Nellie (Deb Wims) assures Emile. “It’s me. How I was brought up.”

The most poignant moment evolves as Lt. Cable (Mickey Rafalski) and de Becque (Robert Wilde) confront each other. We indeed are “carefully taught to hate all the people our relatives hate.” Incrementally we pass it on generation after generation.

Perhaps what in the end makes us tear up is the fragility of Liat (Arianne Villareal) and the innocence of the French-speaking, half-Polynesian children Ngana (Anjali Rooney) and Jerome (Ian Gamble). They are the injured for the sake of perverse ideologies.

World War II ended mid-August 70 years ago. The factors that caused it sadly remain rampant in society. Use this touching production of South Pacific as moment of personal assessment. 

Beef & Boards

through October 4

visit their website for tickets


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