think you have trouble with the family accepting your new love interest?Consider Yayoi Ichinose, a young Japanese woman whose boyfriend is 50 metres tall, weighs hundreds of tons and breathes fire when he gets excited.
Yayoi and her partner are the featured characters in Godzilla -- yup, he's the boyfriend -- a 1987 Japanese play by Yasuhiko Ohashi that receives its English-language premiere courtesy of Crow's Theatre. The show is set that same year, on a Japanese island just as a volcano erupts, and three years after Godzilla made his wide-screen comeback.
The erupting volcano doesn't calm anyone's nerves. Nor does it help that the immense, saurian Godzilla is inadvertently destructive if rather sweet-tempered. Any building-squashing he does while courting Yayoi is incidental, a by-product of having a foot the size of a small house.
It's kinda hard to hold hands, too, given their difference in height. And their first kiss leaves Yayoi with a radioactive taste in her mouth.
"But she's so young at heart, so pure, so idealistic, that none of the problems matter," smiles Melinda Deines, who plays the infatuated Yayoi. Her smile is so innocent that her next thoughts are surprising.
"Still, Yayoi needs some kind of cure for this romanticism. Love isn't as easy as she thinks, and that's a bittersweet, adult lesson that she has to learn. Initially, she's not prepared to allow that anything can counter her love."
Deines speaks from some knowledge of interspecies dating.
After appearing at the Stratford Festival in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Pride And Prejudice and The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie, she became a regular on the sci-fi series Earth: Final Conflict.
"I was a punk street kid named Street," she laughs, "valiantly saving the world from alien scum. But I fell in love with my share of aliens and have some experience with tensions between species."
While the play is filled with fun stuff -- imagine the wedding night -- there's an underlying serious note about prejudice and the acceptance of what's seen as "other."
It comes not only from Yayoi's family and Hayata, the policeman who thinks he should be her husband, but also from Godzilla's family, who think the marriage won't work.
The big green guy's relatives include his half-brother Mothra -- a giant moth who in various Japanese films is in fact a benefactor to the human race -- and Mothra's wife, Pigmon, a character from the Japanese TV series Ultraman. She's described as a giant but cute cockroach.
"They're the practical ones, the characters who are down-to-earth," explains Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who plays Mothra. "While Yayoi's parents are concerned about appearances and what the neighbours will say, Mothra and Pigmon present thoughtful arguments against the relationship -- how the lovers will have kids, how Godzilla can support Yayoi."
Lee -- whose theatre work includes The Hobbit, Dreams Of Blonde And Blue and The Prince And The Pauper -- points out that no one will be wearing rubber suits to simulate monsters, like in some tacky, low-budget horror film.
Author Yasuhiko Ohashi told the cast that the trick is to conjure up Godzilla and his family in the audience's mind.
"Though I do appear as the pain au chocolat version of Mothra, the larva rather than the moth stage," he deadpans. "When we see him, Mothra is down on his luck, no longer able to protect human beings the way he used to. In fact, he's selling cocoons for a living."
Lee has also had some experience with relationships that bridge cultures. He's Korean; his wife isn't.
"Sometimes having dinner together is an exercise in patience and learning, which in this play is taken to the extreme." email@example.com
GODZILLA by Yasuhiko Ohashi, translated by M. Cody Poulton, directed by Jim Millan, with John O'Callaghan, Melinda Deines, Hilary Doyle, Susan Doyon, Tracey Hoyt, Keith Knight, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Sean Dixon, Shawn Mathieson, Jean Yoon and Isabel Zatti. Presented by Crow's Theatre and the Japan Foundation at Factory Studio Theatre (125 Bathurst). Opens tonight (Thursday, September 19) and runs to October 13, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 7 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $20-$29, Sunday pwyc. 416-504-9971.