Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sandaime Richard

Managed to catch one last show at SIFA, 'Sandaime Richard'. Produced by SIFA and co-produced by Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre and Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC), the play utilizes Japanese, English and Bahasa Indonesia. Written by Hideki Noda and directed by Ong Keng Sen, the play turns gender notions upside down and is a witty avant-garde re-work of William Shakespeare's Richard III.

So the play adapts the medieval Wars of the Roses and defaming the King of England into a clash of ikebana clans. The male and female actors take on roles of both genders. If you ignore genders, it's not the least confusing. The most confusing character in the play is Shakespeare's mother, played by Indonesian actress Jajang C. Noer. She also played Elizabeth.

Richard Sandaime (played by acclaimed kabuki onnagata Kazutaro Nakamura) is the Grand Master of ikebana. Richard claims that Shakespeare is the real criminal for putting so many characters into historical literary infamy. Shakespeare put on trial for defaming him and falsifying history. There's even a lawyer prosecuting Shakespeare- Maachan of Venice (played by our own Janice Koh). Now, that character threw me off. It's a brilliant production that assembled an international cast and flawlessly executed the contemporary aspects of the intriguing subversive script. I'm just not sure it's my cup of tea.

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