by Mike Poulton and Shoichiro Kawai.

Sadlers Wells Theatre Rosebery Avenue EC1R 4TN To 9 February 2013.
Mon-Fri 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm.
Runs 3hr One interval.

TICKETS: 0844 412 4300.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 2 February.

Colourful, penetrating picture of cultures meeting.
Around 1600, when Shakespeare was filling the Globe with the declaration that all the world is a stage, fellow-Englishman William Adams was travelling the globe to make all the world a trading partner. Shipwrecked in Japan, he was captured and faced death, not from the Japanese Christians but from the Roman Catholic priests who hated a Protestant at sight. As the priests did the translating, Adams’ life might never have reached its later ages without a Shogun’s messenger’s timely arrival. Helped by an honest young Japanese priest, Adams follows the due protocols when meeting the powerful Iesayu Tokugawa. Created a samurai, and dressing for the status, Adams contrasts the arrogant Spanish envoy subsequently sent away with a flea in his ear after refusing to adopt the same protocols.

Sadlers Wells is a big stage for a story of two men’s friendship, but Stephen Boxer and Masachika Ichimura achieve a natural style which fills the space, while the battle scenes which repeatedly erupt as something like Shakespeare’s Wars of the Roses rejoice in the large-scale. And the Japaneserie of Yuichiro Kanai’s settings exploit the space or confine the action for more intimate scenes.

Power ebbs and flows, leading to the closed-off Japan the English stage has variously seen, at Manchester’s Royal Exchange in Shusako Endo’s Silence, about the persecution of Christians, and Stephen Sondheim’s Pacific Overtures, with its first act detailing the new trade dealing of the 19th-century which finally broke the long national isolation.

Such pieces enrich – without being necessary to understand – the wisdom and friendship of two men from different backgrounds, class and culture, whose alliance works for their gain in material but also humane ways. Adams is someone who has argued his way in life, Tokugawa someone who commands but understands the undercurrents of power. Which is why, amid the sound, fury and spectacle of some scenes, probably the most memorable is the quiet meeting of the old Shogun and the young child whose execution he must order to help ensure peace after his own death.

Gregory Doran’s production marshals the material on all scales to considerable effect.

Ieyasu Tokugawa: Masachika Ichimura.
William Adams: Stephen Boxer.
Domenico: Yuki Furukawa.
Hidetada Tokugawa/Yoshitsugu Otani/Soldier: Kazuya Takahashi.
Yoshihiro Shimazu/Tadaoki Hosokawa/John /~Iemetsu Tokugawa: Jun Uemoto.
Yododono/Prostitute: Yoshiko Tokoshima.
Hideaki Kobayakawa/Hideyori Toyotomi/Prostitute/Pursuer: Yu Koyanagi.
Oyuki/Page’s Attendant: Seiko Sakurada.
Tadayoshi Matsudaira/Soldier/Peasant/Servant/Pursuer: Riku Ozecki.
Hideyori (as a child)/Acolyte/Kunimatsu/Joseph: Yui Fujimaki/Hugo Take.
Tadakatsu Honda/Samurai Captain/Retainer/Peasant/Guesst: Hiroyuki Kamikawaji.
Naomasa li/Naotaka li/Terazawa/Peasant/Guest: Taro Yamaguchi.
Hideie Ukita/Soldier/Shigenari Kimura/Guest/Retainer: Chikao Suzumura.
Nagamasa Kuroda/Messenger/Peasant/Guest: Kentaro Mizuki
Soldier/Peasant/Pursuer: Teruo Kato.
Mitsunari Ishida/Yukimura Sanada: Fuyuki Sawada.
Terumoto Mori/Soldier/Mototsugu Goto/Messenger/Actor/Pursuer: Ryo Amamiya.
Masazumi Honda: Katsuya Kobayashi.
Old Jesuit/Soldier/Nealson: David Acton.
Antonio/Soldier: Sam Marks.
Captain Quack/Cox/Soldier/Dutch: Keith Osborn.
Eaton/Crew/Soldier/Attendant/Bob Pickle: Charles Reston.
Saris/Crew/Soldier: Joshua Richards.
Vizcaino/Crew/Soldier: Miles Richardson.

Director: Gregory Doran.
Designer: Yuichiro Kanai.
Lighting: Jiro Katsushiba/Ryoichi Sumio.
Sound: Iwao Takahashi.
Video: Taiki Ueda.
Costume: Lily Komine.
Hair/Make-up: Chimaki Takeda.
Assistant director: Seiko Sakamoto.
Assistant designer: Mikio Koguchi.

2013-02-05 01:01:00

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