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Review: Sotoba Komachi at the Old Fitz

Review By Louisa Polson

The New Ghosts Theatre Company presents, Sotoba Komachi, a modernized version of the traditional Japanese style Noh play, written by Yukio Mishima.

Described as a, “strikingly beautiful ghost story about love and aging’, Sotoba Komachi breaks away from the common stories of people in the youth or middle age and instead tells a story that centres around the life of an elderly person. 

People of a certain increasing age tend to fall to the wayside in society, often overshadowed by younger people in their community. It's a stage of life that often seems so distant and beckons little contemplation in our earlier years.

Komachi, played wonderfully by Susan Ling Young, is an elderly character who spends her evenings being overlooked by the local community, until a young poet, played by Wern Mak, calls out Komachi for her attempts to disrupt the parks tranquillity. The unlikely coupling of an older lady and a young man challenges normative society, almost making you uncomfortable as the mismatched couple work through their suspect perception of one another. Both characters were played so strongly by Young and Mak respectively. Despite the characters being conceived as uncomplimentary, they were each played with a stubborn nature, highlighting a shared trait commonly attributed to their contrary demographics. 

The ensemble, which included  Jasper Lee-Lindsay, Rachel Seeto, Millie Hing and Jeremi Campese, were fantastic in skill and form, filling the space with an abundance of energy. Each character bounced off one another with great ease. Most impressive however, was their ability to move so cohesively in a dance driven scene. This crescendo moment in the piece is one of the most impactful scenes, tying the story together with potent energy and a whirlwind of mystic. The play interweaves supernatural elements so seamlessly that you are not distracted by the otherworldliness but begin to believe the reality presented to you. 

The play has a run time of 45 minutes, making it quite a zippy number. Unlike a standard-length play, the compressed piece of theatre does not have time to create a complex world, but instead, presents a few key concepts that follow the audience home, allowing them to ruminate on what could have been. This final part of the theatre watching experience, the minutes, hours, and morning after a show is a period when the themes of a play are reinforced and can be just as impactful as watching the events unfold in real time. The absence of heavy details makes this story malleable and easily applied to modern settings. Despite this play being written by Yukio Mishima in 1952, Campese’s adaptation of the play does not feel stuck in any timeframe, nor is it inherently tied to any specific place. Instead, it feels relatable and easy to envision.  Campese is to be commended for their work of bringing the lesser-known style of Noh plays to the Australian stage. Sotoba Komachi is a fanciful and quaint piece of theatre that stands out for its unique style and structure. 

Image Supplied


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