I was front row and can see what Gareth James means although it wasn't too bad, and as with many surtitled shows I found I didn't need to read every single caption to get a sense of what was happening. The piece came across to me as a meditation on single-mindedness; one lead character is blind and utterly focused on teaching the shamisen, the other is completely devoted to her to the point of total selflessness. We're invited to ask whether the resulting intensity of their relationship is pure or destructive. The voiceover device is well-used, unobtrusive and nicely ties things up at the end when the contrast of what we've just seen with the noise and light of the modern world comes crashing in upon us. I'm surprised by the WOS review's contention that there is not enough emotional breakout; I thought the emotion was sharply magnified by being held in check for so much of the time, and exploding once or twice. The whole thing has a pleasingly pared-down feel. At first I was unsure, but found myself gripped and the 110 minutes passed quickly. - Sycamore Flint
18 Feb 09
Complicite is a highly inventive theatre company and this is their second Japanese collaboration. If only the Barbican surtitles weren't so far to the left and right and so high up! Many in the audience are faced with the choice of missing much of the gorgeous visual imagery or failing to understand the story as it's virtually impossible to do both. I chose to understand the story, which meant spending 110 minutes contorting my neck and missing some of the visual interpretation. It's an adaptation of a fascinating story about a blind musician and her companion with sexual tension and SM tendancies! It's told by a narrator who in this production is recording the story for radio whilst it is played out in a stylised Japanese form on a bare stage with minimal props but highly effective use of sound and light. Despite the surtitle fiasco, I was enthralled......but it will take a while for my neck to return to it's normal position!
- Gareth James
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