Unforgettable/That’s what you are/Unforgettable/Tho’ near or far/ Like a song of love that clings to me/How the thought of you does things to me/Never before has someone been more/Unforgettable in every way.
— Nat King Cole made the song famous in 1951; daughter Natalie did a computer-generated duet with her father in 1991. The Grammy-award winning song won 3 awards in 1992.
Parents just don’t understand, said The Fresh Prince better known as Will Smith, who rapped the 1988 classic with DJ Jazzy Jeff. Unforgettable the show is more about grandparents who don’t or can’t understand. When two generations exist in the same home, there’s about to be some problems. Fashion designer student Rita (Tracy Lee marvels in this role) lives with her traditional Japanese grandmother Keiko (Randi Tahara is amazing). Rita is a laid back young woman with a passion for two things: clothing and her latest man Mark. Between her social life and Grandma Keiko losing what’s left of her mind, Rita has her hands full.
Keiko constantly berates her granddaughter for stealing her clothes or items around the house. Rita suspects there’s something more to her grandmother’s erratic behavior. To calm her down, Rita asks her to recall the day she met her late Filipino husband, Joseph. This is when the adult Keiko remembers her younger self (Ami Shimada is wonderful) with such happiness and excitement. Here she can vividly recall marrying her true and only love Joseph (George Infantado has a brief but memorable presence). When it comes to her late husband, Keiko is very clear in her memories of them both. Rita listens earnestly and asks her grandmother to continue.
The flashback helps both grandmother and granddaughter reach some type of understanding with each other. Rita learns that the elder Keiko was once a vibrant woman with a deep passion for Joseph. Not the same hard-core affection Tracy has for Mark but, Tracy witnesses in awe how deep Keiko’s love for Joseph goes even after death. There are brief interludes of clarity Keiko experiences about her life in Japan. It’s these memories that momentarily keeps her together.
Writer Rochelle Perry excels in writing such a beautiful yet, heart wrenching story. There are two types of love executed extremely well. Tracy and Keiko. Keiko and Joseph. The former is ongoing and the latter ended way too soon. This would explain Keiko’s unpredictable behavior. She’s heartbroken for losing her man and now lives between fantasy and reality and the reality is much harsh than she can handle. Luckily, her vibrant grand-daughter is there to remind Keiko of her vivacious youth. Director Cassie Soliday brings out the tender moments in small pieces until a portrait of love and sacrifice reveals itself whole and with heart. It’s distressing to see Keiko unable to distinguish the past and the present. It’s these precious moments that make life so sacred and sometimes unforgivable.
Unforgettable plays until Sunday, October 13th, plays Saturday nights at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. at the Write Act Repertory located at 10950 Peach Grove Street in North Hollywood. For ticket information log on to www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4334653