SUPER PREMIUM SOFT DOUBLE VANILLA RICH
by Toshiki Okada.
artsdepot 5 Nether Street Tally Ho Corner North Finchley N12 0GA To 11 June 2014.
Post-show talk 11 June.
Runs1hr 50min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 8369 5454.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 10 June.
Off the wall in soemways but by no means off the shelf.
This show lifts LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre) beyond its central London programme with two nights in far-flung northern Barnet.
It’s an appropriate show to place in a London Borough which has vigorously pursued the outsourcing of services to private companies. For Takashi Okada has written and directed a piece which reflects a society where life has become an entrepreneurial entity.
Set in a convenience store, its packed shelves are insubstantial projections on cloth which shakes when touched, at once promising plenty and delivering blandness in designer Takuya Aoki’s set. Staff work in patterned uniforms, chirruping welcomes and goodbyes until they decide someone not spending money doesn’t deserve customer treatment.
They stand blandly by when lectured on their economic subjugation. Such politics mean little in their lives. Okada has picked on the generation born into the late days of economic promise but coming to adulthood post-Japanese prosperity, a ‘lost generation’ for whom tsunami and nuclear power-plant disaster are emblems of the times.
The failure to deliver is represented by the once-available vanilla a customer wants. No longer produced, there’s the promise of a new, improved version indicate by the show’s title. But the grand claim of the flavour’s inflated name leaves a sour taste, more chemical than real vanilla.
The obvious realistic limitations (more looking around in anger) are avoided by a formality contrasting the deliberately mundane setting to which Japan has between reduced for these young people. Consistently actions are carried-out with choreographic movement, turning realistic postures and gestures into something more iconic – and certainly noticeable. And these govern both the pace and relationships between characters.
The whole is set to the first book of J S Bach’s ‘Well Tempered Clavier’ its sections moving through all musical keys. Beside providing a harpsichord background to movement and speech, its purpose as music (to prove a keyboard could work equally in every key) comments ironically on the ill-tempered nature of the society as seen by young adults.
Whether the piece needs its whole length to make the point is debatable, but it’s a dramatically arresting way to present a society.
Performers: Makoto Yazawa, Tomomitsu Ádachi, Azusa Mamimura, Hideaki Washio, Shuhei Fuchino, Shingo Ota, Mariko Kawasaki.
Director: Toshiki Okada.
Designer: Takuya Aoki.
Lighting: Tomomi Ohira.
Sound: Norimasa Ushikawa.
Musical arranger: Takaki Sudo.
Costume: Sae Onodero (Tokyo Isho).