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A CurtainUp London Review
Mr Ido (Kathryn Hunter) is an ordinary businessman, who arrives home one evening to find his wife and child have been taken hostage by an escaped convict, Ogoro (Glyn Pritchard). In an attempt to rescue them, Ido visits Ogoro’s wife (Hideki Noda, who also directs), in an attempt to persuade her to reason with her husband. However, the situation quickly escalates, and he ends up taking her and her son hostage, eerily mirroring the events occurring in his own home.
Noda and Teevan’s play, based on Yasutaka Tsutsui’s short story Mushiriai (Plucking At Each Other) is a biting satire, in which an intrusive media and inefficient police force contribute to a disturbing domestic tragedy. The quick-fire script is full of wit and rhetoric, and there are several laugh-out-loud moments in its opening section. However, as Ido’s acts of revenge become increasingly twisted, the mood becomes darker and words are replaced with long sections of movement to a soundtrack of ‘The Humming Chorus’ from Madame Butterfly.
Noda’s direction is full of physical ingenuity. Long strings of elastic bands become barricades, microphones and noodles, and the most shocking moments revolve around Ido’s tortuous breaking of Ogoro’s son’s fingers, represented by pencils. Noda’s portrayal of Ogoro’s wife is captivating – at times hilarious, at others heartbreaking, and there is sterling support from Glyn Pritchard and Complicite veteran Clive Mendus in a range of supporting roles. However, it is Kathryn Hunter’s mesmerising turn as Mr. Ido which really makes this production. Ido’s quick journey from sympathetic victim to ruthless criminal is – thanks to Hunter’s finely nuanced and highly energetic physical performance – truly captivating.
Miriam Buether’s predominantly monochrome costumes – the only real colour comes from Ogoro’s wife’s kimono - and bright blood-red stage give this disturbing tale of an ordinary man’s descent into violent vigilantism an appropriately sparse and striking visual impact, whilst a mirrored back wall implicates the audience, telling us that what we are watching is not as far away from our own lives as we may like to think. This is an utterly thrilling and bizarre piece of theatre, which – although it may not be to everyone’s tastes – will remain with its audience for a long time, ensuring they never look at a broken pencil in the same way again..
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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