Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Saturday, 29 September 2012
DasSHOKU Shake! Sept 28, 2012 ***
Yumi Umiumare & Theatre Gumbo (Japan) Produced by DasSHOKU Project
27 to Oct 7, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Version of this review online at Herald Sun on Tues, Oct 2, 2012. KH
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
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
Dramaturg; Set, Ellen Strasser; Sound, Dan West; Costume, Kiki Ando &
Theatre Gumbo; Lighting, Tom Willis
Umiumare, Matt Crosby, Helen Smith, Willow J, Harrison Hall