"If not understanding was a crime, we'd all be guilty." Here is the humanist core of "Innocent When You Dream" at the Electric Lodge, and it brushes with greatness. With a tweak or two, Ken Narasaki's inventive, affecting account of a Japanese American war veteran caught between past and present could soar into the pantheon. It's certainly worthy and original enough.
Meet protagonist Dan (the memorable Sab Shimono), a senior in crisis mode. Sneaking out of his nursing home, Dan seeks out a seedy bar with wartime associations. The lighting by Christopher M. Singleton goes akimbo, a pounding heartbeat dominates Dennis Yen's soundtrack and Dan collapses under the weight of a massive stroke. From here, "Innocent" takes off from inside Dan's head, leaping between his hospital room and key pieces of his memory puzzle. While his third generation children -- civil rights activist Joy (Emily Kuroda, atop her game) and estranged son Merv (author Narasaki) -- struggle to interpret his wishes, Dan revisits the internment camps, the 422nd Regimental Combat Team and, crucially, Grace (the superb Sharon Omi), the enigmatic woman who eluded his advances. His trek between now and then thus unfolds like an inverted origami to the cosmic finale.