Theatre Replacement blog by Gabriel Baron Feb 23, 2007
At one point a designer of an electronic sexual stimulus device accuses a subordinate’s product proposal as “lacking sophistication ”, a quality the show as a whole has in spades. In another moment, a character points out the Japanese culture’s knack for “subtlety, understatedness, and Zen ”, qualities I also found in all aspects of the show, particularly the design, beautiful and ordinary, simple and striking. Theatre Replacement presents for the audience a series of vignettes touching on aspects of Japanese culture, allowing the audience to draw possible connections between intense work ethic, overpopulated cities, work place gender politics, professional competitiveness, pornography, the West’s view of the Japanese sexual practices as deviant, sexual deviance, marital flaccidity, sexual obsession, electronic gadgetry obsession and groping, among others. The acting was barely there yet the performances oozed truth. The artist on stage seemed to effortlessly inhabit a variety of characters, easily flipping between fourth wall representation and audience interaction while never seeming to act at all. At various points I laughed, was touched, uncomfortable, enraptured, turned on, turned off, disgusted, intrigued, curious, surprised, inspired and giddy and never bored. They did not hand me their message on a platter nor spin unnecessary webs of artistic randomness. The design was cohesive with the script, supporting and illuminating themes with simplicity and beauty. A favorite lighting moment shone four tight spots on four of the 20 white collars hanging in suits as a backdrop. The piece itself in style and format reached a successful blend I have yearned to see and still hope to create myself one day, seamlessly combining straight theater, improv, direct address, fiction, non-fiction, dance, music and audience participation. Just when I was thinking that the only shortcoming was a lack of dynamic variance throughout, I witness before me a beautiful Japanese woman brought to sexual climax by a man posing as Ichiro using a baseball bat posing as a super deluxe mega-vibrator, shortly followed by another attractive Japanese woman ruthlessly- well, I don’t want to give it away ”¦ but I’ll just say they brought the piece to a new dramatic level just in time.