Butoh Medea

dance & physical theatre · ren gyo soh · Ages 16+ · Japan

includes nudity one person show
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Review by JULIE SOWA

June 21, 2018 certified reviewer

What I liked

Yokko is a physical actor; so every objective and goal of her character is embodied physically; which makes her such an interesting artist to watch. I don’t see much physical theatre anymore; and since Yokko uses Kabuki in her movements to sneak up on us, and is a classically trained actor; her style of acting instills a type of excitement in the audience member that is also physical. The audience even clenches their muscles; trying to go on the journey with her. I try to glance at other audience members time to time to gauge how they are doing; and it’s a beautiful thing to see feet being desperately pressed into the floor, fists clenched, legs moving trying to convince the body of the owner to get up on two. It’s amazing what physical acting does to an audience. Yokko is our enchantress in that way. She takes over our bodies as well as owning her own.

What I didn't like

I think this show is great as it is; THERE ISNT ANYTHING THAT NEEDS IMPROVING. Adding staging, props, etc. wouldn’t work here because she creates the world in our minds in a more real way than anything else could do. So I really have no notes on what could be improved. Yokko OWNS this show, and this world and her art, and that’s all you could ask for in a performance. She creates this world only with her amazing story telling skills, we can see her children, we can see their cribs, and the ocean; the sound effects are fantastic. And even with the few lighting options she had at that tiny little theatre, she found neat effects that would work. I can’t even imagine what she would do with more at her disposal.

My overall impression

Performed by an incredible physical actor, the story of Medea is courageously taken on in the true depths that it deserves. Most of the time when this story is told, It is half told; the directors and actors who fear having to “go there” to the dark, terrifying and devastating reality of Medea’s story, circumstances and experience just simply “tell” the story instead of SHOWING it to us. Yokko is an actor that does not go half way; she works through Medea’s challenges physically and emotionally and we root for her the whole way as she slowly transitions from loving mother and wife to a beast. We all know how it ends, but still we wish and hope for this character because Yokko pulls us in on that journey so that the story is so new to us that we think maybe, just maybe, she will escape her fate. I would watch this again and again knowing that because Yokko herself is so honest and open to each moment; it will be a pinch different everytime. She also interacts with the audience to plead her case; and even invites us into her spells and downfalls; and we are caught in her gaze questioning our own tendencies as humans to desire some sort of retribution. Yokko is not afraid to give her full being and everything she is to this story and this character; that is what makes her an exciting artist to watch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a stronger woman perform live; physically or emotionally. When she is barely moving physically, and is slowly rising toward the heavens, you can see every single muscle in her body from toe to tip of her finger as she reaches and reaches; by this point she has pulled you into her story, so you are so intune with her being that you notice every single muscle clenching; doing it’s job to hopefully somehow get her out of her entrapment in revenge.

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