Actress Sees Hopeful Message in ‘Yohen’

June Angela and Danny Glover in a scene from Philip Kan Gotanda’s “Yohen.” (Photo by Michael Lamont)

By J.K. YAMAMOTO, Rafu Staff Writer

James and Sumi Washington are at a crossroads after 37 years of marriage.

At the beginning of Philip Kan Gotanda’s two-character play “Yohen,” co-presented by East West Players and the Robey Theatre Company, directed by Ben Guillory and running through Nov. 19 at EWP, Sumi has asked James to move out of the house and to visit as if he is courting her again.

We learn about how they fell in love in occupied Japan when James was serving in the Army, and how both of their families disapproved of the marriage. After decades together, they still care for each other, but they have different interests (boxing for him, pottery for her) and, more importantly, different ideas of what they want to do with their lives. The title is a Japanese pottery term that refers to unpredictable changes that take place in the kiln.

June Angela plays Sumi opposite Danny Glover, who first played James opposite the late Nobu McCarthy at EWP in 1999.

For Angela, who has extensive stage, screen and singing credits going back decades, this was her first time working with Glover, who is known for such films as “The Color Purple” and the “Lethal Weapon” series.

She did one of Gotanda’s plays, “The Dream of Kitamura,” in New York, California and Hawaii, and recorded his “Ballad of Yachiyo” for L.A. Theatre Works’ “The Play’