Monday, May 20

GOOD-BYE – Coronet Theatre

A sizzling, poetic piece from Japanese theatre company, Chiten Theatre, weaves snapshots of Osamu Dazai’s life and literature together. The rhythmically acute cast form characters sat at a bar in Tokyo. As they swig their drinks, they build the tension as Dazai nears his impending suicide.

A beautifully choreographed sequence sees the characters popping and pulsing, drawing out “Good bye”, a syllable per person. Slowly, this morphs into the main body of the show, which externalises Dazai’s emotional journey, exploring the notions of living and dying, through the particular nihilistic post-war lens. The cast embody characters from Dazai’s life, his stories, and also his own voice.

The narrative, elegant in its simplicity, conveyed an intense longing and desire to understand life and humanity. The emotive force from the performers articulated this feeling – a desperate, passionate search and subdued fatigue at their situation. The sheer precision and relaxed fluidity of the movements and ensemble work was unparalleled, and the duality of fatigue and flow of the ritualism mirrored the depth of feeling and conflict in the piece. Director, Motoi Miura, excels in this way. The rhythm is driven along by the exquisitely funky rock band, Kukangendai.

The absurdity of the lack of interaction between the characters created a sense of isolation, and the emotions didn’t always align with the content of the text, again conveying emotional desperation and disorientation. The fast-paced dialogue with interjections made it challenging to grasp what was happening and who was saying what whilst reading the captions (the text is all in Japanese), so some of the intentions of the piece were lost on me because of this.

The lighting, designed by Yasuhiro Fujiwara was moody, and electric and worked wonderfully with Itaru Sugiyama’s orderly set.

Good-bye was a delight to watch, without ever having read Dazai’s material, I understood his character, his angst, and the national disquiet in Japan, and the celebration of Dazai’s life.

Playing until 9th March 2024.

Reviewer: Riana Howarth

Reviewed: 7th March 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.