Pros: An enthusiastic cast giving it absolutely everything they’ve got.
Cons: A shapeless mass of noise, confusing graphics and an obsession with water pistols rob this show of any real purpose.
I felt a certain amount of trepidation as I picked up a water proof poncho and set of earplugs before entering the auditorium; my heart sank still further when I saw the seats were covered in cling film. It was obviously going to be messy as translator Kyle Seiya Hogue outlined the do’s and don’ts while people took their seats.
The pre-show blurb offered some further clues as to the show’s origins. Director Toco Nikaido is a Tokyo based artist and pop idol, presenting Japanese sub-culture in all its multi-coloured, cacophonous, frenetic glory; part pop concert, part controlled chaos. Specifically, it pays homage to otagei – geeky dance routines performed by superfans to their Japanese pop idols. Well it was certainly multi-coloured chaos, as a 25 strong company launched into various routines that explored the cult of celebrity.
Music, dance and video screens should have been sufficient to carry this broad theme. But alas, it was considered necessary to pelt the audience with water, confetti and seaweed at regular intervals. Performers also insisted on walking between people and the seats in front; with no leg room this meant everyone had to get up every two minutes to let them pass by. I’m not sure why they had to do this, particularly as legroom was already tight and the floor was becoming wet and slippery with confetti.
I found it extremely difficult to follow the show as a coherent piece and the entertainment value was lost on me; my ears were plugged from the deafening sound effects and eyes closed as protection from the next projectile flying in my direction. The cast however were thoroughly enjoying the experience, but then again isn’t anarchy always fun? They looked like hyperactive schoolchildren rehearsing for a spot on Britain’s got Talent, but I couldn’t detect the vaguest flicker of performance. What this company did requires no discipline, skill or artistry; anyone can jump around and wave a glow stick in the air; similarly anyone can throw water over the audience. Whilst I happily embrace innovation in the theatre, this is not entertainment, more a glorified bunfight.
I was glad when the 45 minute presentation finished, as the plastic poncho had given up the ghost and was absolutely soaked through. Sorry guys I tried but just didn’t get any of this.
Director: Toco Nikaido
Producer: The Barbican and LIFT Festival 2016
Booking Until: 2 July 2016
Box Office: 020 7638 8891
Booking Link: http://www.barbican.org.uk/theatre/event-detail.asp?ID=18774