Thursday Theatre Review: Sexual Practices of the Japanese
It really is the time of festivals in the city. One of these is the Performance Spring Festival at Factory theatre. This is the second year of the festival which features premiers of work from companies across the Canada as well as a 'Late Night Series' which includes live music, comedy and play readings. The festival, that runs from May 7 - May 25 began with Sexual Practices of the Japanese by Vancouver's Theatre Replacement.
With a healthy mix of irreverent humour and serious thought-provoking moments, and of course some sexy scenes, this show makes for a good way to spend an evening out.
I think I'll start with what this is not... In case you were hoping for a live sex show, this is not it. Nor is it a show with nudity. Nor is it a show that is actually particularly focused on sex, it more talks around sex as opposed to about sex. So, if you're looking for something interesting and funny this is a great choice, if you're looking for something to get you off, this one's not the thing that's going to do it. Now that you know what it's not, let me tell you a bit about what it is.
So, what is it? Bottom line, it's a show worth watching. In fact, when I asked John, my show partner for this one (theatre/computer-geek extraodinaire) what he thought about the show overall he didn't hesitate, he said "it was great!". I asked him what was his favourite part and he said "the design was stunning", and I have to agree, it really was.
When you walk into the theatre you are greeted by a reasonably bare stage with about 20 business suits suspended on wires. Three of these are in a separate row in the front, as the show progresses these suits at the front will be used as a type of puppet. Also on the stage when the audience enters are two women in school girl uniforms talking to each other, pointing out people in the audience, twittering and generally fulfilling the porn stereotype of the Japanese school-girl. The whole thing works together brilliantly. As the show progresses it becomes apparent that the fabulous design continues through the production. It really is a visual treat.
There were moments in the show that, for me, felt like they didn't quite fit. They were moments that felt a bit like they were being 'artsy for artsy's sake' and didn't have a particular place to fit in the show. The moment that stands out for me the most is a dance that is done by one of the characters after offering tea to another character. The dance was cool to watch, the woman knows how to move, and it was interesting and engaging, but it didn't actually feel like it fit in the show. Of course, that's just one person's opinion, highlighted by the fact that when I said something to John about how I enjoyed it but not the moments of 'artsy for artsy's sake' he said he didn't feel like there were any moments like that at all. And the truth of the matter? It doesn't really matter, those moments may have been a bit distracting for me, but other moments were so engaging, heart-ripping or funny that it didn't matter.
The play encompasses different narratives pulled together into one show, you can't come to this and expect a straight through story the way we expect in traditional theatre, but there are stories here. The piece is not so abstract that you can't become engaged. The characters are there and strong enough that the audience feels for them, wants to know what happens, wants to follow them.
And, I just have to re-iterate that some of it was tears-in-your-eyes funny. I have a very, *ahem* unique laugh, and there was a woman in front of me who moved down to a different empty seat in a move that I'm fairly certain was designed to get further away from me guffawing. Of course, the person she moved in front of, he had a pretty good hearty laugh going too.
- Sexual Practices of the Japaneseruns from May 7 - May 18 at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst)
- Tuesday-Thursday at 8pm $25; Friday at 8pm: $30 or RUSH
tickets 10 minutes prior to performance for $10 (RUSH Tickets available on
Fridays only); Saturday at 8pm: $36; Sunday Matinee Pay-What-You-Can ($20 if
booked in advance)
- more information through the box office at 416-504-9971
Photo of Manami Hara, Maiko Bae Yamomoto, and Raugi Yu
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