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Published on Wednesday, 18 July 2012

5 starsUnderground Venues, Dance
17-19 Jul, 7:30pm-8:15pm
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

A standard of both Kabuki and Noh theatre, Dojo-Ji follows the story of a young monk who undertakes a pilgrimage, stopping at a house on the way. While he is there, a young woman falls in love with the monk. She pursues him and he retreats to the Dojo-Ji temple to flee her affection. Her passion transforms her into a terrifying serpent, and the monk hides himself in the temple bell; but she discovers him and coils herself around the bell, burning both the monk and herself.

Makoto Inoue’s interpretation sees Inoue perform the story solo, through neo-Japanese mime. A versatile performer, he uses the specificity of his gesture to create distinct characters, as well as crafting the setting and environment.

The piece uses simple costume, and the set is created out of a single piece of cloth – which becomes a river, the serpent and the bell. The movement is always the centre of the action. Inoue’s facial expressions are especially communicative, and expertly convey emotions to the audience.

The show features an evocative soundscape, which is used to great effect. Synching his actions with sounds of footsteps on different terrains subtly conveys the idea of covering vast distances, and the sound of water instantly sets the scene of the river meeting. The music enhances the emotional intensity and also makes for a very accessible piece, as it effectively constructs the world of the story, allowing the audience to focus on Inoue’s depiction of the characters’ journeys.

A knowledge of the story and of Kabuki theatre in general will aid in understanding the show, but is by no means necessary in order to enjoy it. Dojo-Ji is visually beautiful enough to be enjoyed for that one aspect… but it is also an excellent and accessible piece of storytelling.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Buxton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.