Review excerpt

The story of Shakespeare’s tragedy was there somewhere,although all I know for sure is that Juliet was not a person but a Chupa Chup.

The New York Times

by Erik Piepenburg



by 藤原央登

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Performance history










The New York Times by Erik Piepenburg

The show categories in the Fringe Festival are pretty self-explanatory: drama, comedy, solo, clown,vaudeville, magic.

But I’m not sure if “performance art,” as it’s listed in the program guide, quite sums up “Romeo and Toilet,” an hour-long exercise in dancing, marching, clowning and screaming by the Tokyo-based Kaimaku Pennant Race.

Here’s how the company describes its work on its website: “Our performance has the style that emphasizes the explosion of energy spread out of actors’ body trying up to their limitation with much of body liquid.”

Well, yes.

At last night’s show the actors performed dance numbers with military-like precision, shouted at each other at close range, slapped each other’s faces, simulated bodily functions using a human toilet and made a human caterpillar. The story of hakespeare’s tragedy was there somewhere,although all I know for sure is that Juliet was not a person but a Chupa Chup. by Michael Mraz

Kaimaku Pennant Race’s show Romeo and Toilet—straight from Tokyo—is billed as having a style emphasizing the “explosion of energy spread out” and “uniting Japanese animated cartoon culture and Japanese physical characteristics.” It is also described as a “challenge” of Romeo and Juliet.

While the first is extremely true of the production and a credit to their work, I found it troublesome identifying the connection to Romeo and Juliet and struggled mightily to figure out just what the meaning behind Romeo and Toilet was.

Romeo and Toilet is an hour-long blend of colorful vignettes. It relies heavily of the physicality and movements of its performers and very little on dialogue (it is actually almost ten minutes before there is any dialogue spoken).

Many of the scenes created by the six-person all-male ensemble are very familiar. Men finding different uses for the toilet (not at all in a crude way). A line of men trying cross a tightrope and falling to their deaths one-by-one.

A bunch of women giving birth. A bunch of babies in a room, with pacifiers, trying to communicate with one another. They all have a certain humanity to them and are quite hilarious by themselves.

The show seemed to have little to do with Romeo and Juliet itself, though, aside from a few mentions of the names here and there; and, overall, as a cohesive unit, I wracked my brain throughout—trying to dig up some common thread.

However, I did care dearly about finding that thread and that is a tribute to the skill and passion of the ensemble and the direction of Yu Murai. Yu Murai has built his cast into one cohesive unit of independently moving parts. Their synchronicity in movement and energy is extremely impressive.

Relying heavily on physicality and sculpting images (two men sit crouched as a “toilet” for minutes,numerous times throughout the show), their control over their bodies is amazing. The power and passion they bring to enlivening Romeo and Toilet is incomparable. They have formed a perfectly balanced ensemble and their passion makes you care.

Funazo Hasegawa’s sound and Yuuji Sekiguchi’s lighting work so well with the actors that the elements are almost the seventh and eighth members of the cast.

Romeo and Toilet seems to go in every direction, but if it is anything, it is extremely focused. The performance style they’ve developed is interesting and engaging. Perhaps, the idea is to let go of the search for meaning, and let the show affect you as it will. Perhaps another watcher will find that common thread where I did not. The tagline of the show is “performance is destructive power” and where I, perhaps, lacked understanding, Romeo and Toilet does not lack that power.

Time Out New York by Elizabeth Barr

**** [FOUR STARS] The name of this show is the first hint that this dance-theater piece probably won’t be a strictly faithful version of Shakespeare’s tragedy—and it isn’t. The Japanese dance company Kaimaku Pennant Race offers a barely recognizable Bard, refracted through the lenses of Japanese sensibilities and anime culture.

Those looking for romantic grandeur will perhaps be disappointed. But others will be rewarded with a fantastic combination of ingenious movement, surreal story lines and dynamic, startlingly disciplined performers. The troupe’s rendition of a warrior on horseback, accompanied by his guardsmen, is thrilling; its mob of babies is silly brilliance; and its take on water swirling through a toilet—maybe you thought the title was a bluff?—would make Dali chuckle.

newtheatercorps by Nicole C. Lee

What do you get when you take a classic Shakespearean tale , Romeo and Juliet , and mix it with Japanese interpretive dance and…a toilet? We’re never exactly sure in this 60-minute performance entitled Romeo and Toilet, presented by Kaimaku Pennant race. Written and directed by Yu Murai, six male actors engage in intense, physical actions that never seem to compliment or build a clear plot. While the names Romeo and Juliet are often thrown around, as well as some other lines in both English and Japanese, there is virtually no comprehensible speech or dialogue. In one scene, the characters engage in an intense argument that is little more than muffled speech because each

man has a pacifier in his mouth.

The performance relies heavily on choreography involving such stunts as imitating horseback riding with only the actors’ bodies. The music is perhaps the best part of the show. Featuring a mix of alternative rock ‘n’ roll and jazz , it is reminiscent of a Quentin Tarantino film or a Japanese cartoon. And while the work put into the show and the physical demand on the performers is laudable, I doubt an even cursory knowledge of Japanese will illuminate this show for you.

Ant Hampton (Rotozaza / UK)

“Romeo and Toilet is the most invigorating, confounding and hilarious theatre piece I’ve ever seen

in Japan. I can’t get it out of my head.”

Chong Wang (Théâtre du Rêve Expérimental / China)

“A young Tadashi Suzuki, fresh, hilarious, and powerful!”

Josh Bowman (Development Manager, Ars Nova / New York)

“Romeo and Toilet was a terrific show! It was fun, innovative, and wildly unique. This is a piece that defies definition. It’s weird, hilarious, and great to watch!””

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シアターアーツ by 藤原央登

「奇跡のうんこ」をひねり出すために―― 開幕ペナントレース『ROMEO AND TOILET』/あうるすぽっとプロデュース『ロミオとジュリエットのこどもたち』

シェイクスピア生誕450年の2014年は、様々な劇場で関連公演が上演された。あうるすぽっとで開催された「シェイクスピアフェスティバル2014」でも、演劇・ダンス・演芸のジャンルから15団体のシェイクスピア関連の舞台があった。そんな中、どのフェスティバルにも関係せずに、ひっそりとシェイクスピア作品を上演したのが、開幕ペナントレース。題して『ROMEO and TOILET』(作・演出=村井雄、2014年9月28日マチネ、相鉄本多劇場)。初演は2009年8月のニューヨーク公演。劇団HPには「The New York Times をはじめとする各種メディアでの劇評を獲得するなどの成功を収め」たとある。過去に唯一観た『アントンとチェーホフの桜の園 -最終章-』(2012年3月、アサヒ・アートスクエア)が『桜の園』と直接は関係がなかったように、本作も『ロミオとジュリエット』とは一見別の作品である。だが前回の観劇とは異なり、注目すべきものがあった。この作品に加えて、あうるすぽっとプロデュース『ロミオとジュリエットのこどもたち』(原作=ウィリアム・シェイクスピア、訳=松岡和子、作・演出=三浦直之(ロロ)、音楽=三浦康嗣(口ロロ)、2014年10月4日マチネ、あうるすぽっと)について言及する。衒いなく愛を語り合う『ロミオとジュリエット』の激情的な世界に登場する、じっと耐えて祈る人物。以下は、そのような人物が登場する2つの『ロミオとジュリエット』の同質性と、作品総体から受ける違いについてだ。
 恋愛することの前提となる自己認識。そのことを三浦はロザラインの存在によって担保したが、開幕ペナントレースは全面的に押し出して表現した。しかも、きれいな一本糞をするために大汗をかいて食料を調達に行くという、文字通り身体的な位相に落とし込んだ。糞を出すことに真剣になる行為が純愛に繋がるという展開は、バカバカしいだけではない深遠な思想が孕んでいるのである。 2014/12/28

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