Venue: Art Gallery of NSW (Sydney NSW), Jan 16 – 25, 2020
Director: Emily Ayoub, Arisa Yura
Cast: Madeline Baghurst, Ryuichi Fujimura, Alicia Gonzalez, Masae Ikegawa, Emily Ayoub, Arisa Yura
Based on the illustrations of Toriyama Sekien (1712–1788) and Itaya Hiroharu (1831-82), the Japanese folklore of 百鬼夜行 Hyakki Yagyō is brought to fantastic life for a 21st century audience, in a modern iteration entitled Night Parade Of One Hundred Goblins. A long runway is formed, so that the stage action reads like a scroll, commencing with performers racing past us, a succession of curious entities travelling across time and space, to share ancient stories from a supernatural realm.
It is a thoroughly physical work, informed by traditions of dance, mime and clowning, featuring a cast of five taking on a variety of characters, each one stranger than the other. They are alternately comical, frightening and dramatic, but always intriguing, and certainly inventive with their bodily faculties. Dialogue is kept to a minimum, so we rely almost entirely on visual communication, although music does play an inordinately big part of the exercise.
Masae Ikegawa creates her music live, a thrilling feature that works magically with the echoes of the hall, to take us away from the mundane, as it thrusts our imagination into something altogether more mysterious and instinctual. Recorded sounds by Ben Pierpoint are an electronic counterpoint that keeps sensibilities within this modernity, complete with thumping beats that make sense of the dance, for bodies we see on stage, as well as the rhythmic pulsations we experience inside our seated selves.
Lights by Martin Kinnane are colourful and very dynamic, able to spirit us away from the interiors of a concrete jungle to somewhere far more mythical and magical. Tobhiyah Stone Feller does brilliantly as designer, with unforgettable work on costumes and makeup that deliver extraordinary whimsy and quite unexpected beauty.
Directed by Emily Ayoub and Arisa Yura, the presentation is a marvellous feast for the eyes, a clever blend of theatrical disciplines that playfully entertains, whilst challenging our artistic literacy. There is much that Night Parade Of One Hundred Goblins can offer to teach, but probably more significantly in terms of how we read its stories, rather than the stories themselves.