Sunday, August 22, 2010

Edinburgh Fringe - My Name is Richard and The Crying Cherry

My Name is Richard

I heard a lot of good things about this one before I went to see it, and I wasn’t disappointed.

It is a musical about Richard (not Dick), a teenager with Asperger’s syndrome, which is a kind of high-functioning autism. He is in love with a girl, Anne, who is dating the school bully, but he is determined to win her love.

The score and the book were both good. The interactions between Richard and his parents and his two brothers were very realistic, as were the playground interactions of the teenagers at Richard’s school.

It was interesting to watch the way Richard’s mind worked, convinced that the logical chain of events that he could see in his head was the way things would work in reality. He couldn’t grasp the reality of human emotions that his friend kept trying to explain to him.

It was very well done, very sensitive to the subject matter without tiptoeing around it. The songs were good, and one of them is still stuck in my head a couple of days later.

The Crying Cherry

Ok. This is going to be a toughie. The difficulty comes from the fact that I’m not familiar with the source material. I’ve heard this play described as a live-action Samurai Jack. And I think they’re parodying a whole genre of Japanese films.

It’s a piece of physical theatre. It stars two men in tracksuits who not only play all the characters, but create the entire soundscape as well, using their voices and a handful of props. It’s the story of twin brothers, essentially. Their father raped their mother, and when she was pregnant, the mother was given a prophecy that one of her sons would murder the other. So she sends one of them away, where he is taken in and trained by a Samurai, and eventually journeys back to his homeland where he accidentally kills his brother.

That said, the plot was completely irrelevant, because the whole joy of this show was in the skill of the two performers. They played all the parts, often several at once, including the animals, and did the sound effects. They were phenomenal. It was all performed with complete seriousness, but the result was absolutely hilarious. And it was meant to be.

And, I should say, there was dialogue, and narration, that accompanied the whole show – all of it in gibberish Japanese. Convincing gibberish Japanese.

It was bizarre and surreal, but it was also a feat of physical performance. Very clever and very funny.

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