Saturday, 29 September 2012

DasSHOKU Shake! Sept 28, 2012 ***

By Yumi Umiumare & Theatre Gumbo (Japan)
Produced by DasSHOKU Project
fortyfivedownstairs, Sep 27 to Oct 7, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Version of this review online at Herald Sun on Tues, Oct 2, 2012. KH 
YUMI UMIUMARE'S PERFORMANCES OFTEN DEFY DESCRIPTION, and the only way to explain DasSHOKU Shake! is as a crazy collision of Japanese Butoh grotesque dance, Japanese TV game shows, contemporary, transgressive burlesque and the comic grotesquery of French Bouffon clowns.

Shake! is Umiumare’s response to the Japanese earthquake and Tsunami in 2010 and it tosses the physical and emotional devastation of the disaster into a blender with hope and the desire for a brighter, lighter future.

The concept of shaking is the glue that loosely links 17 disparate vignettes featuring local Butoh, burlesque and dance artists with visiting Japanese Butoh performers, Theatre Gumbo.

The idea of shaking ranges from convulsions to tantrums, panic, obsession, love, dance and sex.

The show is riddled with the social satire that characterises both Butoh and cabaret-burlesque, in scathing criticism of corporations and government or gently barbed, comical scenes about parenting, businessmen or love. 

Some scenes are inspired and challenge the audience to think, confronting us with transgressive imagery, abstract movement, stunning costumes, loud music and uncomfortable imagery that trigger both dread and laughter.

Featuring the skilful, compelling, hilarious Kenichi Mabuchi, Business Shake is a wry, clownish squint at businessmen, reflecting both Eastern and Western attitudes to the corporate world.

The outrageous Sexy Shake brings new meaning to ‘breast enhancement’, with local burlesque dancer, Willow J, shimmying and shaking multiple, outsized mammaries.

In Nippon Banzai, Chizuru Misaki, dressed as a Samurai warrior, challenges Japanese youth not to replace their ancient heritage with American fast food culture, while Tomomi Nakayama and Nono Miyasaka are adorable and versatile as cutesy pink-clad clowns.

Other scenes are simply shambolic, chaotic, hysterical or just plain annoying, with frantic performers scrambling and shaking around the stage with no apparent purpose.

Umiumare is always a compelling central presence, seeking the light, craving hope and transforming the earthquake’s tremors into something playful or beautifully abstract.

A final, moving scene, when Umiumare stands weeping into the light, reminds us of the pain suffered by the Japanese.

This show is not for the faint-hearted or those who prefer their theatre tame, classical or conservative, because DasSHOKO Shake! is experimental, contemporary, conceptually challenging and an assault on all of the senses. Be warned!

By Kate Herbert

Creative Team
Matt Crosby, Dramaturg; Set, Ellen Strasser; Sound, Dan West; Costume, Kiki Ando & Theatre Gumbo; Lighting, Tom Willis

Australia: Yumi Umiumare, Matt Crosby, Helen Smith, Willow J, Harrison Hall
Japan: Kenichi Mabuchi, Nono Miyasaka, Hiromitsu Oishi, Chizuru Misaka, Tomomi Nakayama

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