The word batu in the title of Hannah Ii-Epstein’s powerful play
is a slang term in Hawaiian drug culture for methamphetamine (it comes from
the Tagalog word for “rock” or “stone”). The title also is a nonsexual
double entendre—meaning both giving up meth entirely and indulging in two
hits of meth (not one, but two)—that connects to the show’s central
conflict: Honey Girl, a former meth addict trying to keep clean in a
subculture where everyone she knows is a user (even her mother) so she can
keep custody of her kid, continues to deal meth to supplement her meager

Ii-Epstein, a former addict turned playwright (and coartistic director of
Nothing Without a Company), knows well the world she describes. Her
dialogue is peppered heavily with Hawaiian pidgin English and drug slang,
and her characters feel ripped from life. This quality is accentuated by
the raw, moving performances director Rachel Slavick coaxes from her
ensemble, led by Marie Tredway’s subtle but compelling take on Honey Girl.

The piece, staged by Nothing Without a Company at the Berger Park Cultural
Center Coach House, begins with nearly an hour of environmental theater, a
staged party at which the audience members mingle, willingly or not, with
the characters from the play, followed by a more traditional theatrical
performance. Environmental theater is this company’s thing. And the party
is fun and relaxing—beer is for sale, and there are card games and live
music—but, honestly, the power of Ii-Epstein’s fine play wouldn’t be
diminished one iota if the party were cut.   v