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Saturday, January 13, 2018

SPAC's "Mugen Noh Othello" at Japan Society in sold-out run

Japan Society, celebrating its 110th anniversary,
and The Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival
present Satoshi Miyagi's Mugen Noh Othello.
(photo: Takuma Uchida)
Front left, Micari (Desdemona)
Front right, Maki Honda (Pilgrim from Venice)
with chanters (l-r): Kotoko Kiuchi, Yoneji Ouchi, Asuka Fuse,
Kazunori Abe, Fuyuko Moriyama and Haruyo Suzuki
(photo: Richard Termine)

North American premiere
presented by Japan Society (NOH-NOW SERIES, PART IV)

Satoshi Miyagi and his acclaimed Shizuoka Performing Arts Center center and elevate the role of Shakespeare's Desdemona in Othello in Mugen Noh Othello. Seen through the tradition of mugen noh theater, the warrior Othello's wife and victim becomes the potentially disruptive shade trapped between life and definitive death until she can work through her story in front of the living. This crucial process for moving on and finding ultimate rest is, in a real sense, a form of theater as ritual to release her soul. Unlike most otherworldly beings in mugen noh, though, Miyagi's Desdemona is a more humble than formidable figure, appealing to the audience's sympathy.

As the tragic ghost, Micari, silkily, eerily skims the stage on feet we never see, voluminous robes concealing what surely must be casters bearing a body that admits no articulation, drawn forward as if by magnetic force. In her thin, delicate crown, she's a doll, the very model of perfection, but our final sight of her--oh, that parting gesture!--might reveal how much her devastating fate will always define her.

The full-bodied percussive music has power. As kneeling members of the superb chorus, arranged at stage left, chant the story, you will have to scan and stare hard at each mouth to determine the source of each utterance. Supertitles provide English translations, but I bet you'll find it tough to tear your eyes from the stately beauty on stage.

Script: Sukehiro Hirakawa
Original music: Hiroko Tanakawa (arranged by the actors)
Costume design: Kayo Takahashi
Lighting design: Koji Osako

Remaining shows of Mugen No Othello (tonight and Sunday) are sold out. Wait list lineup starts one hour prior to curtain. For information, click here.

Japan Society
333 East 47th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenues), Manhattan

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