Yellow Earth Theatre, Rashamon

Review in Issue 13-4 | Winter 2001

Rashamon is a Japanese murder mystery, inspired by the short stories of Akutagawa which sparked the Kurosawa film of the same name. Focusing on the universal themes of perception and deceit, three characters tell their version of the same story. Written by Phillipe Cherbonier and directed by Kwonge Loke, Kumiko Mendi and David K.S. Tse, this Rashamon is packed with text and visual devices; a rough-hewn combination of storytelling with Yellow Earth’s own brand of martial arts physical theatre.

A husband is murdered; his wife and her lover suspected of the deed. Two detectives unravel what occurred. The company uses numerous props which supplement rather than enlighten our engagement with the narrative. Mirrors are a central visual element. Two-way mirrors, at times cumbersomely used to create a setting, emphasise different facets of the characters’ personalities, their perceptions of the situation, and the worlds of the living and the dead. Kazuko Hohki as a gnarly old wig-maker, acts as narrator and commentator, a macabre link between these two worlds, with a distinctive song style adding her own unique attributes to the piece.

The ensemble switch competently between different roles maintaining the life and suspense of the work, but at times there is too much attention to detail in the verbose text and not enough to the physical representation. The platforms given to the three main characters to tell their versions of the crime slow down what is essentially a simple story and contrast greatly with sections of more physical emphasis. Although the writing nicely knits humour and intrigue, the direction seems to restrict the performances; but it is a piece overflowing with ideas,

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Nov 2001

This article in the magazine

Issue 13-4
p. 25