Due to ongoing problems with my internet connection and computer over the last week, I’ve not been able to write the reviews I’ve wanted to (I had to post the LOTR review in an internet café). So instead, here are a brace of slightly truncated reviews for your delectation.
Although Nakamitsu closed last weekend, I think it’s well worth a mention. The Gate Theatre in Notting Hill has found a promising talent in Benjamin Yeoh, the author of this 50 minute piece, based on a traditional Japanese Noh play. Yeoh won The Gate’s translation award (against some well known established writers) and had his play put on at the prestigious fringe venue as a result. The production, directed with visual clarity and verve by Jonathan Munby and Michael Ashcroft, is a seemingly straightforward tale of master and servant, duty and grief. The code of duty and honour, which is nearly impossible for us in 21st century British society to fully comprehend, is so central to Nakamitsu’s being, that he would rather his own son die than his master’s heir be punished with death. It’s a very powerful piece of theatre, the sacrifice and duty both compelling and horrifying. The simple, beautiful words are performed by an excellent cast of five, who also double as musicians, culminating in a thrilling drumming session towards the end of the play. Strikingly performed on a long catwalk-like traverse stage, when we first enter the auditorium we are in a seedy Japanese strip bar, but suddenly this modern scene transforms into the traditional simplicity of Nakamitsu’s story. I think Benjamin Yeoh is a talented writer, with a gift for spare language and urgent storytelling, I look forward to his next work.