Rick Shiomi’s script for Yellow Fever is a hoot. The playwright—who’s from Canada but clearly knows American genre fiction—gives us a variation on the hard-boiled San Francisco detective. Instead of Sam Spade, we get Sam Shikaze. His turf is Japantown, a declining enclave that’s largely ignored by the police and deserted by the “nicer” families who’ve fled to the ’burbs. Shiomi has fun with the conventions of detective fiction and adds some bilingual humor, which is quite funny if you understand Japanese.However, this production, by InterACT (Interactive Asian Contemporary Theatre), is a mixed bag. Actor Matthew Robinson, a big guy who never does anything by half-measures, gives a suitably outsized performance as Shikaze, and he’s fun to watch. Melanie Amano (as the girl reporter/love interest) also handles her role well. Some of the other actors are two-dimensional and struggle with their lines. Overall, the production doesn’t have as much polish as some put on by other community theater groups.
But if InterACT wasn’t with us, it’s highly unlikely that anyone else in Sacramento would stage a delightful bicultural play like Yellow Fever. So, we’ll give this one a conditional recommendation, with the hope that InterACT’s shows will get glossier now that the company’s found a home at The Space.