The current production at Apollinaire Theatre Company in Chelsea is the intriguing drama "Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise" by Toshiki Okada, with English translation by Aya Ogawa. Mr. Okada's play is inspired by a traditional Japanese tale, The Legend of Urashima Taro. Here is a thumbnail summary of the legend:
In the Apollinare dramaturg's program notes, we read this quotation: "The princess had shut Urashima's life up in the box . . ." This phrase seems to perfectly capture for me the central message of this play: "Are we willing to allow ourself to be locked in a box - a TV, a computer screen, a room, a corporation, a job, a relationship. our limited imaginations, our fears, etc? Or, are we willing to listen to the voice inside of us screaming to be let out and to travel beyond quotidien boundaries and concerns?
Mr. Okada's play is set in the repressive corporate atmosphere of Japanese industry, yet this production takes this very particular setting, explodes it and makes it universal. Each character begins the play sitting in front of a computer screen - a cog in a corporate machine. Actor 1 (Trip Venturella) professes a desire to make something more of his life, and then confesses that it is a.ll a lie. Over the course of the play, it becomes clear that each character is an interchangeable aspect of "Everyman/Everywoman," swapping roles as they represents various levels of consciousness and self-awareness. Due in part to Direction by Danielle Fauteux Jacques and the multi-ethnic casting, the tale does take on a universal application. Becca A. Lewis, Deniz Khatreri, Paola Ferrer and Quentin James round out this five-person cast. In the photo below, Becca A. Lewis sits in front of her "Box," a slack-jawed mouth breather going through the motions of working and living. She represents the opposite end of the spectrum in which an earlier version of her character repeatedly bleats, "I want to travel."
|Trip Venturella, Paola M. Ferrer Collazo,Becca A. Lewis, Deniz Khateri, Quentin James|
"Sonic Life of a Giant Tortoise"
by Toshiki Okada
Apollinaire Theatre Company
Through March 13th
Scenic Design is by Nathan K. Lee, Sound Design by Ben Blier, and Costumes and Choreography by Susan Paino.
This production will run in Chelsea through March 13th. I suggest that you crawl out of your tortoise shell, make the very doable trek to Chelsea, and join this fine cast as they lead you on a journey of discovery.
Apollinaire Theatre Website